Read Millie's Game Plan Online

Authors: Rosie Dean

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Humor & Satire, #Humorous, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Contemporary Fiction, #General Humor, #Humor

Millie's Game Plan

BOOK: Millie's Game Plan
3.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Millie’s Game Plan

Rosie Dean


Copyright © Rosie Dean 2013

Rosie Dean has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

The story contained within this book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author: Rosie Dean
[email protected]



My heartfelt thanks go to fellow writers who have encouraged and suppor
ted me in my writing. Not least to: Barbara Smith and friends at Thames Valley Writers’ Circle; the Romantic Novelists’ Association and their fabulous New Writers’ Scheme; Giselle Green, Cara Cooper and Catri Robb – aka The Seekers’ Girls; and Wendy Cartmell, Maggie Silwood, Albert Waulquier and Mike Snell from the Costa Writing Group.

A special mention to writers who have inspired me with their teaching: Anita Burgh, Julie Cohen, Hannah M Davis, Nina Harrington, Kate Lace and Jane Wenham-Jones.

Huge thanks to Kelvin Woolmer, who generously gave guidance on matters of police and ecclesiastical procedure; also to Jack Fiddler for information on cricket.

To my dear friend, Noelle Chambers, thank you for your support and my apologies for the librarian comment in chapter 8 – no offence intended.

Thanks to editors, Hannah Adcock and Anna Reynolds, at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, for their eagle eyes and useful insights.

Finally, love and thanks to my own hero, Chris, who has encouraged me throughout and
allowed me to pick his strategic mind when developing my plots.

And thank
for choosing to read this book.

Chapter 1

‘Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan,’ as Sandra Bullock said in my all-time favourite romantic comedy. After watching the movie (on average) four times a year for the last decade, you’d think the message might have filtered through. I still had a lot to learn.


You could say it all started on the last Thursday in May, when I belted into Spume Seafood’s reception with a dozen giant, helium-filled, purple pilchards floating in my wake. I was there to deliver F.A.B. Marketing’s design proposal. Never known to be outdone in the dog-and-pony-show of agency pitches, Graham – my boss – had decided my arrival with a shoal of flying fish would make all the difference. We would stand out from the competition. I suppose I should be grateful he hadn’t got me togged up in waders and fishing hat or – God forbid – a halibut suit.

I beamed at the receptionist to deflect her incredulity. ‘I’m here to see…’

‘Mervyn Jarvis,’ she sighed. ‘F.A.B Marketing?’

She pulled a lips only smile. ‘Here’s your pass. Could you sign the book, please?’

I placed my laptop bag on the floor, switched the pilchard ribbons to my left hand and signed. When I looked up, I caught her eyeing the pilchards. ‘Amazing what you can get these days, isn’t it?’ I said, just as the lift doors opened, revealing two men from the competition; one looking smart in a Paul Smith suit but wearing a bright yellow sou’wester with matching gold tie, the other, head-to-toe in pirate gear. Johnny Depp would turn in his Winnebago.

I glanced back at the receptionist who stared impassively back at me. ‘I’ll let Mervyn know you’re here,’ she said.

At the sight of me, The Suit puffed out his chest, whipped off his hat and strutted up to the reception desk. ‘Thanks, Julie,’ he said, handing in his pass. ‘See you again,
,’ he added for my benefit. Then, without another glance in my direction, strode out of the building with his arms held parallel to his body, like he had a coat-hanger stuck in his jacket. Jack Sparrow-legs dropped his pass on the counter and loped out behind him.

It may have been my imagination but I’d swear Julie muttered ‘tosser’ under her breath.

I perched on the fat, padded arm of a reception chair; experience had taught me not to attempt lowering myself onto the actual seat in a pencil skirt. I thought about my pitch. The Spume Seafood brand was up for a revamp. I practised the presentation in my head. ‘We believe the clean, simple structure of this logo speaks of the superior quality of your product.’ That was one of Graham’s favourite lines. We used it all the time. ‘F.A.B. Marketing will get alongside Spume Seafood, take your vision and make it even brighter.’ I’d trotted that one out a few times, too.

Ten minutes later, Mervyn Jarvis emerged from the lift. His eyes brightened when he saw the pilchards; were they daft and were we verging on sycophancy? Yes – but every client wants to believe their project is worth the effort. ‘Millie, nice to see you again,’ he said, holding out his hand. ‘Love the fish.’

‘They’re all yours,’ I said, about to hand them over then thinking better of it. If he got stuck in the lift doors with those things I could lose the pitch before even launching PowerPoint.

He took me to the boardroom, its walls adorned with framed prints of former campaigns. A couple were F.A.B.’s works of genius, which bolstered me since I intended referring to them in my presentation.

Three of his colleagues sat at the table. I beamed at them until I felt my cheeks freeze when I spotted a familiar face – Rick Williams – late marketing manager of Dream Gelato; a luxury ice-cream manufacturer, former client and, in this case, dating disaster. We’d had an ill-fated coupling at the Good Food Show. I’d persuaded my boss I needed to visit the exhibition to support our new client, Dream Gelato, for whom we’d designed the exhibition stand. My professional relationship with dishy Rick had been developing very nicely, thank you, with the promise of things to come. So I’d taken my primordial desire for him and, with true theatrical talent, turned it into convincing professional zeal. And it had paid off – in so far as Rick and I had shared one too many Manhattan Ice Cream Floats and some pretty fruity moments of intimacy. Believe me, there’s not much room in the back office of an exhibition stand to get jiggy but we’d given it our best shot. It was only when I spilt the dregs of Rum Baba Gelato down Rick’s pristine exhibition suit that it all came to a sticky end. I swear he was channelling Monica from Friends as he yelled, ‘Oh my God! Clean it up. Now!’ It still rang in my memory.

He raised one eyebrow as we shook hands. ‘How are you, Millie?’ Unlike me, he’d been prepared for this reunion.

‘Nice to see you again,’ I said, over the ice-cream medley churning in my brain, before swiftly moving on to his colleagues.

Eager to get started, I strapped my pilchards to the back of a chair, connected the laptop to the projector and hit the ON button. Ten anxious seconds later, up popped the F.A.B. logo on their whiteboard and I was off. And I was good. Audiences didn’t faze me. I’d spent most of my formative years in amateur dramatics and I’d delivered dozens of presentations in my professional life. I like playing to an audience, I know my stuff and I’m good with words. Nine pages in, as I strode up to the screen and gestured confidently at the first batch of figures, there was a sudden and unsettling change in the room. We had us a power-cut. The only glow came from my laptop screen – and possibly my chemically whitened teeth.

‘The generator should cut in, soon,’ Mervyn reassured me.

We waited.

Rick raised the blinds.

We waited some more and Mervyn picked up the phone. ‘Ah, no power, no phone,’ he said.

‘It’s okay, I’ve put copies of our presentation in the proposals,’ I said, lifting the documents I’d been wire-binding at two o’clock that morning. ‘If you’d like to sit over by the windows…?’

After a few murmurs, they moved and I handed out the documents.

‘You’ll find the figures on page twelve,’ I said, my palms starting to sweat. I may be very good with words but unfortunately, I am also dyscalculic. It’s like dyslexia with numbers. To me, every calculation is a riddle. I can only memorise a phone number if I set it to music, but ask me to dial it and I might make several attempts whilst running up the phone bill. That’s why my PowerPoint presentation is connected to a spreadsheet; a very clever, interactive spreadsheet that my lovely friend, Eve in Accounts, has constructed. I can dip into the spreadsheet, follow handy prompts and talk convincingly about how the budget is put together. What’s more, I can impress with neat projections of potential improvements in sales figures over the coming quarters.

Unfortunately, all these smart calculations were only summarised in the proposal; summarised in words and numbers the average corporate bod could understand. I, on the other hand, couldn’t.

My throat began to dry out and my back prickle. A fog was filtering into my brain. I walked smartly over to my laptop and pulled it towards me. The calculations were on screen. I could do this. I would follow the notes in the proposal and fill in with detail from my spreadsheet. Two screens in, and a little orange light began blinking on my laptop. My heart-rate peaked. Hal, at work, had warned me I needed a new battery. I’d just been too busy to fill out the requisition form. Any second now, it would die and I’d be condemned to mathematical dementia. I would be like Levi Roots in the Dragon’s Den, trotting out preposterously inaccurate projections. If only I’d brought my guitar, I could have won them over with Spume Reggae.

I romped through the calculations; terror focussing my mind and my tongue on the detail, before – zwipp! Off went my laptop.

I swallowed.

There was nothing else for it.

I sprang from my seat, clicked my fingers to a catchy rhythm and sang,

‘Spume Seafoods, they do it right

Spume Seafoods for you every night

Give yourself a treat, your family too

Taste and goodness on a plate for you.

I struck a pose and held it, waiting for applause. I beamed my smile around the room.

After the eternity of two seconds, Mervyn clapped. He did. He clapped, he smiled and he triggered a ripple of applause from his fish-flogging compatriots.

‘I like that
,’ he said. ‘A new, modern edge to our campaign. Let’s make putting fish on the menu – cool. I love it.’

‘Great!’ I said, wondering what on earth Graham and the team would think when I told them their creative direction had gone truly off course. Who cared? Melvyn liked it. Melvyn
it. If my mother had been with me, she’d be giving thanks to Peter, Patron Saint of Fishermen. But since there wasn’t a national Take Your Mother to Work Day, I was off the hook – no pun intended.

Even dishy Rick was smiling, although he may have been re-playing a memory of me licking Cherry Brandy Sorbet from his fingers.

I left on a high, after handing out a pilchard to each of them. Even Julie got one. I insisted. I pressed it upon her enthusiastically. ‘Have a lovely evening,’ I said and meant it. After all, I was pretty damned sure the Spume Seafood gig was mine.

I put my laptop in the car boot, which was already full with the theatrical costumes I’d picked up at eight o’clock that morning. In my spare time I run Hamlets, a youth drama group established fifteen years ago by my late father. We were staging
in a few weeks, so I had twenty-five circular skirts of varying sizes for the girls to try on at tonight’s rehearsal.

The Sat-Nav estimated my time of arrival as ten minutes past rehearsal time, so I fired up the car and hit the road for
Basingstoke – seventy miles away. It was rush hour. Not a hope. I rang Bob, Dad’s old friend and my co-director. He could start the rehearsal without me.

The radio was honouring National Wedding Week with a selection of romantic tunes prefaced with love stories from the listeners. How sweet.
And how lucky to actually locate the love of your life. At twenty-nine, I was still looking.

I arrived half an hour late, just as the company was delivering a flabby rendition of
Summer Nights
. Bob, as musical director, was really only comfortable with the songs – he left the stage direction and choreography to me. I could see, from the chaos on stage, how little they’d remembered of the moves. So it was jacket off, trainers on and straight into action.

It’s odd. We’re led to believe how loose youngsters are with their morals; how quick to leap into each others’ pants and how worldly. Yet try and get one of them to express love on stage and he squirms like a maggot on Spume Seafoods’ fishing hook. Daley Wheeldon, my Danny, contorted away from me as I tried to draw him closer to his
Sandy. ‘Come on, Daley, she won’t bite.’

‘Yes she does,’ his mate Ben grunted. ‘Keep your cock in your pants, Daley.’

Sniggers all round.

‘Please,’ I whined, ‘this is a performance. You have to put on a show. It’s called acting.
Pretending. Sandy is the most beautiful girl you’ve ever met, she’s completely turned your world upside down, sent your heart racing, given you goose bumps and you’re remembering all the lovely things you did together over the summer.’

More sniggers and a vulgar gesture from Ben.

I held Daley’s arm and looked up at him. ‘I honestly believe, somewhere under that sweatshirt of yours, is a heart. All I’m asking is that you tap into it, for once. Think of your favourite actress or maybe your soppy old spaniel…’

‘That’s well dodgy.’

‘Shut up, Ben!’ I squeezed Daley’s arm. ‘Dig deep and convince the audience those memories really mean something to you.’

Daley’s shoulders moved in different directions.
‘So long as I don’t have to do that stupid, girly, John Travolta high note.’

‘I’ve already told you, you don’t have to.’

‘So how d’ya want me to look, exactly? Like this?’ He pulled the face of a zombie on Prozac. Ben and everyone else cracked up. When he finally regained his composure, he said, ‘Show us, Millie. How d’ya look when you’re in love? You must have done it loads.’ Sniggers at full blast. ‘I mean you must have been in love loads.’

I’d certainly been in lust a few times and, occasionally, deluded that I was in love and loved in return. Which reminded me of the only boyfriend who’d ever really broken my heart – Jamie Coxon. He was into sailing, windsurfing and hang-gliding; a real outdoorsy, have-a-go type. His energy was so infectious you couldn’t be around him without feeling life was there to be lived. Unfortunately, he wanted to live it without me and relocated to New Zealand. And since Jamie, no guy had come close to invading my heart. Which made me realise how misguided I’d been, because I’d never known when Jamie was going to turn up or even
he’d turn up. But whenever he did, it had been worth waiting for. What a mug.

So, in response to Daley’s challenge, I delved into my imagination. It was one of my strongest assets. I took a couple of deep breaths. I felt my face relax, a smile tweak at my lips and I half-closed my eyes to look up into the middle distance, my smile widening gently. ‘Ah, those summer nights,’ I sighed, and closed my eyes as I felt a prickling in the top of my nose.

BOOK: Millie's Game Plan
3.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Midnight Warrior by Iris Johansen
Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead
The Shanghai Moon by S. J. Rozan
Congo by David Van Reybrouck