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Authors: Carmen Reid

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Shopping With the Enemy

BOOK: Shopping With the Enemy
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About the Book

The opponents: mothers vs. daughters

The battle scene: a boutique changing room

Fashion-guru Annie’s well-dressed world is falling apart – first she’s lost her legendary sense of style, and now her daughter Lana seems to have become her worst enemy. Even her multi-millionairess friend, Svetlana, is having daughter trouble – she’s at war with Elena over their business in New York.

A trip to a luxurious Italian spa seems like the perfect way to forget her problems. But celery juice and Pilates can’t solve the disasters that are about to strike …

Will Annie rescue her passion for fashion?

And can mothers and daughters ever truly be friends?

Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

About the Author

Also by Carmen Reid

Copyright

SHOPPING WITH
THE ENEMY

CARMEN REID

For my writer buddies
Kim, Lennox and Shari

Chapter One

London

Annie glams up:

Red and white silk skirt (Donna Karan)

White ruffled chiffon blouse (Gucci)

Vest top underneath as buttons won’t close (Sloggi)

Extra control top tights (M&S)

Red patent platform heels (LK Bennett)

Signature red lipstick (Max Factor)

Total est. cost: £560

‘ANNIE, PHONE!’

Although she was breathing in and trying to tease her skirt zip up over a pair of dangerously over-stretched control top tights, Annie managed to shout back at the disembodied voice of her
husband:
‘Just blinkin’ leave it, will you? I’ll phone the fascist dictator right back.’

It was bound to be the hyper-efficient production assistant wanting to talk through some finer details of the next filming schedule. But quite frankly, Annie had been in the TV studios for twelve hours already today and twelve hours every other day this week, plus last weekend, and she needed a night off.

She
deserved
a night off. In fact, if she didn’t get tonight off, she, Annie Valentine, stressed-out mother of four, popular presenter of TV’s down-to-earth fashion show
How To Be Fabulous
, was going to scream long and loud. Her sister Dinah and her best friend, Connor, were probably already in the bar halfway through their first round and all she wanted right now was for this blinking skirt to blinking do up so she could dash over in a taxi and join them.

There: muffin-top managed. The zip was up, the skirt was on, the ruffled chiffon blouse was tucked in. The blouse didn’t do up at the front any more, so she’d put a vest top underneath and left several buttons undone, using a chunky, pearly necklace to camouflage the crime scene.

How she could go to the gym and be tortured once, sometimes even
twice
a week and not shift one pound of post-baby lard was yet another of life’s many unsolved mysteries.

She stepped over a pile of dirty football kit, a pair of clapped-out tartan slippers, a bundle of toddler pyjamas and stood in front of her bedroom mirror.

‘ED!’ she shouted as she pencilled liner round her eyes.

‘What?’

‘Our bedroom …’ she began, ‘our bedroom is one complete and utter …’

She stopped herself and sighed.

Yes, the bedroom was a disaster zone. But looking around she could see that it was just as much her fault as his. When had she last found the time to deal with the overspill from the shoe cupboard? Or thinned out the gigantic collection of lotions, potions, perfume bottles and make-up littering the top of her chest of drawers?

But at least that was her stuff. What gave her teenage son Owen the right to dump his dirty football kit on the carpet? She gave a frustrated kick at the pile of muddy socks, tops and shorts. Hooligan!

And then the babies … She looked down at the tangle of pyjamas beside the football kit. The babies slept in here more often than in their own beds and they weren’t even babies any more; her twins Micky and Minette were about to turn two!

This room had once been beautifully decorated but now the paint was looking tired, the surfaces cluttered and dusty. Any signs that it had once been
a
romantic, relaxing haven were long gone. Where there had been tea lights and a speaker system playing jazz, now there were dust bunnies, battered Thomas the Tank Engine books and old cups of tea developing strange new life forms.

The Japanese were into a special kind of mould from the top of teacups, weren’t they? Health freakish Dinah had tried to make her drink it once. What was it called again? Kombucha tea … or something? Good grief. Looking at the row of abandoned mugs on the mantelpiece, Annie wondered if she should set up a Kombucha stall.

The duvet moved.

‘Dave …’ Annie growled, ‘DAVE!’

She flicked back the corner of the duvet to reveal the shaggy, saggy dog that Ed, Owen and the twins adored. Annie’s relationship with this dog was more complicated.

She liked the fact that the family adored him so much, but she couldn’t find it in her heart to join the Cult of Dave. The middle-aged mongrel was scruffy, disobedient and almost totally deaf. Despite regular washing, he always smelled and she definitely did not like his habit of nestling down into the marital bed whenever he got the chance.

‘Dave, OUT!’ she said firmly, pointing to the floor, so he got the idea.

One glance at her face and Dave darted from the bed and high-tailed it out of the door.

‘Are you battling with the dog again?’

She turned to find Ed standing in the doorway.

Looking at him properly for the first time today, she took in the untucked denim shirt, the saggy chinos, scruffy squash shoes and his unruly, cheaply cut, curly hair.

Ed was definitely not a fashion icon.

He was a music teacher at St Vincent’s, her children’s school. Well, in fact, he was head of the Music Department now. But that hadn’t made much of a difference to his frugal, down-to-earth personality. He still ‘sourced’ most of his outfits from the senior school’s lost property sale and wore them with the casual disregard of a teenage boy.

She knew that some people found her choice of husband a little inexplicable. But these were people who just saw Ed’s scruffy exterior and knew nothing about the very kind, very funny person underneath.

When Annie had first met Ed, she’d been a recently widowed mother-of-two and she had only seen the tweedy jacket, weird trousers and wild hair too. It had taken some time to unearth the lovely man underneath.

Now, several years on, they were married, they had twins of their own and Annie could forgive all
sorts
of eccentric outfits because the man she truly loved was wearing them.

Ed smiled at her and all that Annie needed to know was in that smile. The smile that crinkled up the corners of his blue eyes and made them lively with merriment. Whatever the situation, Ed was usually mildly amused.

He knew everything about her, every ambition, every crazed little fact and foible and he still totally loved her, which meant everything, especially in this hectic, overworked, chaotic domestic whirlwind they had managed to create for themselves.

‘I do not want a dog in my bed,’ Annie complained. ‘But the door won’t close properly, so we can’t keep the duvet snatcher out.’

To demonstrate, she pushed the bedroom door shut and watched it ping straight back out of the catch.

‘I will fix the door,’ Ed promised. ‘I’m just waiting for a long, lazy evening when I have nothing to do and can apply my expert handyman skills to it.’

‘A long, lazy evening? Your
expert
handyman skills? You’re having a laugh,’ she teased: ‘and if there are ever any long, lazy evenings around here then I want to spend them catching up …’

She put her arms around his waist and pulled him in close against her.

‘Exactly …’ he agreed.

‘OK, but you have to let me go now because I’m heading out and there will be no catching up right now.’

‘When did we last catch up?’ he wondered.

Annie frowned, tried to remember and realized she had no idea. Two weeks ago? One month ago? Longer than a month? That couldn’t be good.

‘Just a minute,’ she remembered, brightening up, ‘there was that Sunday morning, not last weekend, but the one before that.’

‘That doesn’t count!’ Ed protested: ‘we hardly got started, I still had so many good moves to make.’

‘It counts,’ she decided, pulling out of his arms and turning to the mirror to finish her make-up job.

‘Have you heard from Lana?’ Ed asked. ‘Is she all set?’

‘She texted. Two more days at work, then an overnight flight and she’ll be here.’

Annie smiled. It had been nearly three months since she’d last seen her oldest daughter, a terrifyingly grown-up 19 now, and she couldn’t wait for this visit, had all kinds of little mother-and-daughter treats planned, despite her heavy TV schedule.

‘You’ve got some tricky conversations ahead,’ Ed reminded her. ‘I know we think it’s a good idea for Lana to come back from New York in the summer and start the course over here, but she’s already told you what she thinks.’

Annie sighed: it was definitely going to be tricky, but the situation
was
tricky. Annie had a friend, a fabulous wealthy, mansion-in-Mayfair-loaded friend, Svetlana. Now Svetlana, along with her daughter Elena – estranged for years due to a political sex scandal cover-up (life with Svetlana was always several degrees above complicated) – but, anyway, Svetlana and Elena ran a small fashion company, Perfect Dress, and Lana was employed in their New York office.

However, dress sales had slumped dramatically and now Lana was going to have to come back to London, where Annie had signed her up for a fashion business course in the hope that she could go back to Perfect Dress when the situation improved. But Annie already knew that Lana hated this plan and did not want to leave New York.

‘It doesn’t really matter what she thinks,’ Annie told Ed. ‘They’ve got to shrink the New York office and Svetlana agrees that Lana should come home. If Lana doesn’t have a job or a work permit, then she has to come back to the nest.’

Ed whistled.

‘It’s going to be tricky. But don’t let it spoil your night out. You deserve a night off.’

‘Yeah,’ Annie agreed, ‘I should go … but darlin’, is there anything, by any chance, just a little something … to eat?’

Ed laughed: ‘Oh right … Do you mean, in between nappy changing and putting on the latest
oeuvre
by Mr Sponge Bob of the Square Pants, have I been rustling up a little pre-pub guzzle for my lifelong companion?’

‘Have you?’ she asked hopefully.

‘No, Annie, I’m not some kind of domestic superman.’

‘Oh yes you are.’

‘If you go and look in the fridge you might find some of last night’s stir-fry in there unless …’

‘…
Owen’s got to it first
,’ Annie finished the train of thought.

She fussed for a moment about which shoes, then after a squirt of perfume she brushed her hair, tied it up into a not very satisfactory short ponytail and hurried downstairs.

Opening the kitchen door, she spotted her great, gangly son standing just a few feet from the fridge, fork in one hand, plate in the other, putting what looked suspiciously like a last mouthful of chicken noodles into his mouth.

‘Owen!’ she complained, ‘was that the leftovers? Are they completely annihilated?’

BOOK: Shopping With the Enemy
8.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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