A massive thank you to author, Claudia Carroll, for not only donating a signed copy of her latest novel as a giveaway, but writing an EXCLUSIVE short story for #IrishFictionFortnight. To say I am honoured is a bit of an understatement! So, for all you female fiction fans, I give you this:
We Can But Dream...
by Claudia Carroll
‘Suzie? Come on, enough faffing about. Up on the scales please!’ ordered their instructor, an emaciated woman who’d probably never gone within six feet of a complex carbohydrate in her entire life.
‘Go on then Suze, you can do it,’ her best pal Jayne over at her hissed encouragingly.
‘Easy for you to say. ‘Suzie whispered back, ‘may I remind you, you weren’t the one who had the take out chicken tikka masala last night. Bitch.’
‘Ah relax,’ Jayne muttered, so the rest of the class of skinnymalinks they were surrounded by wouldn’t overhear. ‘At least you skipped desert, whereas Bessy Bunter here went straight onto the chocolate pecan ice cream. Compared with me, you ate like bloody Gandhi last night. Now shut up and get weighed.’
The brisk, disappointed ‘tsk, tsk,’ from their class instructor as Suzie gingerly stepped on the scales told her everything she needed to know. Four pounds up on last week. Surprise, surprise.
Not that poor old Jayne fared much better when her turn came. A mortifying six pounds up in a week. Their instructor almost had to be given oxygen after that one.
‘You know what? This is such a load of horse dung,’ Jayne moaned to Suzie after class, as the pair of them sat in Starbucks, over a miserable zero-calorie herbal tea, that frankly tasted like drinking tepid water, drunk out of a puddle.
‘All that money to join Weight Busters and the pair of us have actually piled it on. Please remind me why we thought this was a good idea in the first place?’
‘Because,’ said Suzie determinedly. ‘You and I are having a joint wedding and the pair of us are going to look emaciated, bony and so, so scarily thin, that we’ll look back on the photos in years to come and think, wow! How did my family not cart me off to be treated for an eating disorder?!’
‘Just keep on telling me that,’ said Jayne, staring longingly at a woman at a table beside them, who was having a full fat hot chocolate with whip and a side of hot fudge cake. Even the smell of it was starting to make Jayne feel violent. ‘Because, hand on heart, I’m this close to cracking and making a bolt for the nearest Indian take-away.’
Thankfully though, Suzie stood firm.
‘Think of the pair of us going to a dress fitting in one of those fancy bridal shops,’ she told Jayne determinedly. ‘One of those posh, designer wedding boutiques where they actually hand you a glass of champagne while you’re being measured.’
‘They really do that?’
‘Course they do! Then think about our dress designer fretting herself to nothing because we’re both losing so much weight in the run up to the wedding, that the dresses are hanging off us. Wait till you see, she’ll compare the two of us to Kate and Pippa Middleton. And you don’t need me to tell you the size the pair of them were at THAT wedding. Then think of our joint wedding reception. And the wedding cake…’
‘Which has to be chocolate biscuit cake, with extra thick dark chocolate sauce on the side…’ Jayne chipped in, hand on her elbow, looking like she was ready to start eating the leg of the chair beside her.
‘Then think of how thin we’ll both be on our joint honeymoon…’
‘Which I really think should be in the Caribbean,’ said Jayne firmly. But then she’d had this thing about Caribbean honeymoons, ever since reading about five star resorts there that were all inclusive. Meaning you could eat and drink what you wanted. All day, every day. Bliss.
‘Hmm,’ said Suzie suddenly sounding doubtful. ‘But then what if there’s a hurricane? There’s always stories on Sky about hurricanes howling through the Caribbean destroying everything…could you imagine? What about…say…the Seychelles instead?’
‘Do they do all inclusive hotels, with all you can eat buffets?’ was Jayne’s first concern.
‘Well, emm…yeah. I’m sure they do.’
‘Well of course, we’ll have to check. I’m not starving myself for this big wedding, only to go on honeymoon and find out there’s only pathetic bits of mango and watery old salads for lunch. You know my criteria.’
‘Course I do love,’ Suzie nodded along. ‘The honeymoon hotel must have a minimum of eight restaurants…’
‘Serving everything from Japanese sushi to Chinese….’
‘To Italian. Twenty-four hours a day, round the clock. Well I mean, we gotta have pizza on the beach.’
‘That’s a given! Why else are the pair of us starving ourselves to nothing, if we can’t have pizzas in the middle of the day – or night - whenever we feel like it?’
‘Oh and don’t forget room service! I for one will need rashers, eggs and sausages first thing every morning…’
‘Oh would you shut up, I’m actually salivating now,’ said Suzie, starting to get a bit tetchy from the hunger pangs. ‘All I had today on account of the weigh in, was a shagging boiled egg and a niggardly bit of chicken with the skin gone off it.’
‘Yeah,’ Suzie relied virtuously. ‘Well, apart from the chips I had after the chicken, that is.’
‘Oh well they hardly count,’ said Jayne encouragingly. You can’t just have chicken just on its own. That’s not natural.’
‘How about you?’
Ehh…yoghurt, porridge with low fat milk …’
‘And ehh….a cheese toastie with a box of Pringles.’
‘Did you have to mention Pringles to me? Right now, I’d gnaw someone’s head off for a single Pringle.’
‘But come on, just think how worth it it’ll be! Just think. You and me. On our joint honeymoon. Wearing tight jeans…’
‘Jeans!! I lie awake at night dreaming about being able to wear skinny, boyfriend cut jeans…..’
‘So just stay strong! We can do this, we can motivate each other, we can starve together! It’ll be SO worth it. Think of the guys!’
‘Our grooms! Our actual grooms….our husbands….so proud of us, looking adoringly at us….’
‘And of course,’ Suzie said triumphantly, ‘after we deal with all the weight loss, there’s only one thing we’ve got left to do!’
‘The easy bit!’
‘All we have to do is go out there and find ourselves two fellas!’
To be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of Claudia's newest release, just enter via rafflecopter link below. Good Luck!
In a New York minute, everything can change …
Holly Johnson is at a crossroads in her life. She wants to make it as a real journalist, and she’s dreaming of falling in love.
She’s so close to getting her break at work, and she’s met a very special guy. Well, she hasn’t actually met him … not yet. But everyone knows most relationships start online these days. And she’s on to a winner with this one. Isn’t she?
But something is not quite right with Andy McCoy – and he’s about to learn you don’t mess with Holly Johnson. She decides to fly to New York to find the truth.
Holly is about to get the shock of her life.
What she finds in Manhattan swiftly turns into a nightmare.
But maybe – just maybe – if Holly is true to herself, she can turn this nightmare into a dream come true …
Meet Me in Manhattan is published by Avon and is available in paperback and ebook format. To order your copy, with Free IRL and UK delivery, here.