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Extracts from my unfinished novels | 'The Untitled Cinderella Story'

Hello again! I'm assuming you have already read the unfinished novel I posted prior to this and now you're back for more. Which is great! I hope you enjoy this one, too. This is a story I had been working on about six years ago and is inspired by my love of fairytales. I really don't know why but I have a secret obsession with fairytales. It could be that I'm just a big kid or I just really like magic and the idea of true love. It's probably something to do with anything being possible in fairytales, and in a sense, isn't that why we read? To escape reality? I know that's the reason for a lot of us. Anyway, this particular unfinished novel was meant to be a modern day version of Cinderella (can you tell?) It focuses on an affluent family living in West London. Although it may seem as if Elle is the Cinderella character (her name is an obvious giveaway) the events take a slightly interesting turn. It's focused on both Elle and Chelsea, who is the vain, stuck-up and spiteful stepsister. The plot is heavily based on family dynamics and the relationships between characters is what I explored mostly. Although I didn't finish it, I had a clear plan of what was to happen, including Elle finding secret letters from her Mother who is in fact still alive and living in France. Trina also drops a bombshell at the end of the novel, but I guess we'll never know what that bombshell is... Extract 1 Chelsea Franklin squealed in horror as she looked down at her thumb, the same thumb which had diamantes stuck firmly down on the hard violet surface but was now lacking in not one, not two, but three. “Perfect.” She said sarcastically, switching her glass of champagne to the other hand so she could inspect the disaster more closely. She had paid almost thirty quid for the nails and had only gotten them filed, painted and decorated a mere two days ago. The Chinese manicurist hadn’t spoken much English and Chelsea knew that it would be a waste of time having an argument with the woman; it would only end with Chelsea getting hysterical and completely embarrassing herself by storming out of the shop. Suddenly, Trina appeared next to Chelsea, knocking her out of her thoughts. “Having fun?” Trina asked her sister. “Not any more!” Chelsea replied, scowling. She showed Trina the nail and Trina rolled her eyes. “Good God! Your whole night must be ruined,” Trina said, and stalked off with irritation. Chelsea ran her fingers through her hair – light brown with golden highlights and at least 16 inches of Remy extensions – and downed the glass of champagne whilst cursing Trina silently. Her sister just didn’t understand. It was almost half past eleven and there were a mere thirty minutes to go until the arrival of the New Year. People would soon be entering a frenzy of kissing and popping open yet more bottles of champagne. The party was being held in an enormous white stucco house in Belgravia, London, courtesy of Mr. Alberto Esparza, who Chelsea knew was one of Mother’s good friends from her modelling days. The fashion designer himself had only been spotted a handful of times during the night, snacking on canapés and trying to tactfully escape from the tendrils of his clingy and sharp-faced wife, whom was at least ten years his junior. There were people from all corners of the fashion industry at the party tonight, as well as numerous other guests whom Chelsea assumed were either Spanish relatives or hidden paparazzi. Despite the event having started at least two hours ago, people were still arriving. Chelsea looked around at the attire. Every single woman in sight was wearing some form of stiletto. Chelsea spotted Jimmy Choo, Chloé and, to her amusement, a pair of Christian Louboutins with the price sticker still attached. They were obviously fake, considering the price had been marked down to only £60. Chelsea knew she looked gorgeous, as always. Her hair cascaded down her back in loose caramel curls, her make-up was striking yet simple and the LBD she had picked out with Mother had been a garment to die for. Better still, she had on real Manolo shoes. Sure, the price sticker was still attached inside, but it only proved that Chelsea had spent £500 on the incredible heels, not 60. Chelsea smirked but inside she felt upset. Where was Jake? There must be traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. Chelsea repeated this to herself and grabbed another glass of champagne from a passing waiter. She tried to drink all of the liquid in one go but was stopped by an enthusiastic woman clad in violet and a girl who was also wearing a similar shade of purple. “Darling!” Shrieked the petite woman, who had a huge mane of jet-black hair. “How are you?” Chelsea had to look twice before she realised who the lady was. The combination of the alcohol and the fact that Chelsea hadn’t seen this person in about a year was enough for her to stutter and smile apologetically. “Roberta Babcock-Smith,” Chelsea said to herself through gritted teeth. Roberta gave Chelsea a peck on each cheek, which had her reeling at the stench of overpowering Chanel No. 5. “Long time no see!” Said Chelsea. “And Imogen! I see you finally opted for the liposuction.” Imogen, Roberta’s slimy and uptight daughter, sent Chelsea a series of dirty looks through protruding green-grey eyes. “How is your Mother?” Roberta asked, “and Trina? And your other sister? I always forget her name...” “It’s Elle,” replied Chelsea, “and she’s not my sister.” “I see. What have you been up to recently?” “Well, I-” “Imogen’s now at Cambridge. It’s not a huge shock, given her tremendously impressive studying track record. I suppose all those years spent at Huntingdon paid off, didn’t they?” “Yes, I suppose they did.” The smile that followed from Chelsea was so fake it could have outdone that of a Barbie doll’s. Imogen excused herself and Roberta placed a slightly wrinkled hand on Chelsea’s shoulder. “I understand that it must be hard for you. I too grew up without a loving father and it affected me in the worst way. But I learnt to cope, you know?” Chelsea nodded in agreement, swaying slightly in her skyscraper heels. She didn’t understand why Roberta wasn’t in pain having to reach up so far to touch Chelsea’s shoulder with her hand. “We used to see each other quite often, didn’t we?” continued Roberta. “I mean, normally I would invite you over for dinner but we’re just so busy these days that it’s hard to pencil something in on the calendar. I don’t particularly want Imogen flitting around with friends, not when she’s got such an important three years ahead of her.” I wouldn’t want to ‘flit’ around with Imogen anyway, thought Chelsea. She almost said this aloud but then decided that she would only open her mouth for one thing – another gulp of champagne. “I’ll speak to you another time, darling.” Said Roberta, who quickly walked off in the hope of catching a conversation with Mr. Esparza’s wife. Chelsea thanked God silently and took out her phone from her Prada clutch. She sighed in annoyance after looking at the time. Jake still wasn’t here and she had dressed up especially nice for him. It would have been amazing to have entered the New Year wrapped up in his arms, their lips touching. Chelsea was soon distracted by a passing tray of cocktails. On the other side of the house, Elle Fox stood fiddling with her silver earring, watching people dance with difficulty in a range of remarkable footwear. The enormous dining-room had been converted into a dance floor and now people from all walks of life were showing off their moves; Elle cringed as a man in his late fifties stood on the foot of Mr. Esparza’s daughter. Another waiter walked by, smiled at Elle and offered her a cocktail, which Elle refused with the swift shake of her head. Unfortunately, she hadn’t fastened her earring. It slipped through her fingers and fell onto the floor, bouncing once before totally disappearing into the chaos that was the dance floor. Elle gasped and immediately bent down so that she could get a closer look. The stud was an incredibly small, incredibly shiny piece of jewellery, which meant that she had more hope of delivering a pregnant virgin to Madagascar on a unicycle than finding it amongst the 200 pairs of dancing feet. Elle quickly crouched down on all fours and began to search but after five minutes of doing so realised that it was hopeless. She was earning herself funny looks from people and very messy hair. “Elle! What on earth are you doing?” Elle glanced upwards only to see the stern face of her stepmother looking back at her. She winced, pink-cheeked, got to her feet and ran her fingers through her hair. She straightened her dress and said a polite ‘hello’ to the people that were also standing next to her stepmother. “Er...sorry. I’ve lost my earring,” Elle told Georgiana. "As long as it wasn’t one of my diamonds, then I couldn’t care less. Next time, please don’t crouch down like that in the middle of a crowd. It really isn’t pleasant for people to see your derriere.” Elle, who now felt like it was possible to fry an egg on her face, apologised again and smiled sheepishly at her stepmother’s friends. It just so happened that one of them was an incredibly good-looking guy about her age, who now had laughter dancing in his eyes and, to Elle’s dismay, a hand around the waist of the girl beside him. After Georgiana had introduced Elle to her friends – ‘just some old neighbours that...oh! Excuse me while I take another glass of rosé’ – Trina had appeared looking more bored and more solemn than ever. Parties weren’t exactly her thing and Elle wasn’t really having a great time either. She wouldn’t have minded staying at home with a big tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and Jools Holland on the TV. Maybe she could have invited her friend Deb over so that they could watch the New Year’s special together... “What’s the time?” Trina asked suddenly. Elle blinked and looked around for her bag. “I’ve no idea. I think my bag’s hanging up downstairs,” she said. “Nice one.” Trina replied. “What happened to yours?” “I didn’t bring one. It’s not like I need anything anyways. People have been clogging up the inbox on my phone with stupid, drunk New Year’s text messages that I can’t be bothered to look at.” “Well, it would have come in handy.” Elle said this gently but Trina just scowled at her and turned around to talk to Georgiana. “Where is Chelsea?” Elle heard Georgiana ask her oldest daughter. Before anyone could say anything, Chelsea herself appeared from the doorway, accompanied by a dark figure. “Who’s that boy?” Georgiana asked sharply. “It’s only Jake.” Trina replied. The couple made their way through the crowd, Chelsea stumbling slightly in her Manolo shoes. One of them was unbuckled and Chelsea kept trying to bend down and fasten it but Jake didn’t understand and pulled her along gently until they reached a stern Georgiana, Elle and Trina. Jake Selvaggio really was a piece of artwork. He was wearing a grey suit from Ralph Lauren, a shirt that strained against the muscles in his chest, shoes from Kurt Geiger and an incredibly cute, lopsided smile that made his stunning blue eyes sparkle. Despite looking apologetic – Chelsea was kneeling over and repeating the ‘I’m going to be sick’ mantra – he also looked genuinely sincere and humble. “Ms. Fox,” he said in a voice as smooth as silk. “How are you?” “Well, I was fine until about eight seconds ago,” Georgiana replied. “What’s going on?” “Oh, she’s just a little bit tipsy.” At these words, Chelsea threw her head back and laughed so loudly that half the room turned around and looked at her. “I was waiting for Jakey-Wakey to come and sweep me up in his arms,” Chelsea said, throwing her head back dramatically. “Tipsy?” Georgiana questioned, twin spots of anger flaming on her cheeks. She looked around, smiled at the onlookers and then grabbed Chelsea’s hand and dragged her out of the room, Trina, Elle and Jake following anxiously. This was not going to be good. “Ok, ok, I’m sorry. How many times do I have to bloody apologise?” Chelsea was leaning against the balcony railings, scratching her sore foot, Manolo shoes abandoned on the cold floor. Georgiana stood in front of her, arms folded. Jake had made himself scarce and only Trina and Elle remained present. “You can’t just decide to humiliate me like that, Chelsea.” Georgiana said, looking comically upset. “I didn’t decide to humiliate you on purpose,” Chelsea replied, looking at her Mother as if she were dumb. “If Jake had showed up an hour earlier I might not have felt inclined to bloody drink so much! If he had showed up an hour earlier I might not have bumped into Mrs. Roberta Peanut-Butter-And-Jelly or whatever her name is, either. She’s such a stuck-up cow. And...oh fuck! Chelsea took out a mirror from her handbag and held it up to her face. “Language!” Trina said, who hated all kinds of swearing. “Oh, shut up. My contact lens has come out!” Chelsea replied, pulling a face. Trina rolled her eyes, Elle sighed and Georgiana remained stonily cold. A long silence followed as Chelsea tried to make herself look decent once again. Georgiana opened her mouth several times but no words came out. Finally, she took a deep breath. “All I’m going to say is that I hope you are thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. That applies to all of you.” Georgiana looked at the three girls and with a swift pivot in her Larin heels, headed back into the house. Elle decided she was going to cut down on the junk food. It would be celery sticks and lentils from now on. Trina decided it was about time she learnt something new. Maybe she should start playing a musical instrument or try out a new sport. And Chelsea decided that she was only going to shop twice a week and only drink alcohol after midday. Extract 2 As a 13-year-old Elle sat inside the white limousine outside Georgiana Franklin’s house, she suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of nervousness. She clutched her small bouquet of flowers to her chest and watched as the bride slowly made her way out to the car. Trina and Chelsea were holding up the hem of her dress and several other people (whom Elle assumed were important) bustled around her. Georgiana had looked beautiful. Her dress was strapless, made of delicate white chiffon and was simple yet stunning at the same time. There were ruffles and beads and Elle thought that her stepmother-to-be looked quite like a swan. It was just the way that she wore it. Her slim, model’s body seemed to fit the garment perfectly and her posture and stance and make-up and hair all came together to make her look like the perfect bride. The wedding had been amazing, especially as it had taken place in the summer. The service itself had been held at St. Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, followed by a banquet at the Dorchester Hotel. It had been a huge wedding – 400 guests had attended – and this was mainly due to the fact that both bride and groom had average sized families but many, many friends and work colleagues. Elle remembered being in the church and looking around at all the faces. There were work colleagues of her Father’s, old friends from school, new friends and half a dozen relatives that Elle didn’t recognize because her Father had been an only child. She was pleased to see her paternal grandfather amongst the crowds (Jeremy Fox’s mother had died when Elle was just three) and he was looking healthier than ever, although slightly pained at the fact that Elle’s father had moved on in life. Georgiana’s clan had taken up most of the aisles and Trina and Chelsea were sitting next to their cousins, giggling silently and pretending to sing along with the hymns when really they were doing anything but. Elle sat next to them in her white bridesmaid’s dress, blonde hair loose and green eyes watchful, and tried to catch her Father’s attention. But he was too entranced by the woman on his right, the woman who would soon become his new wife and addition to the Fox family. The banquet had been delightful and Elle was happy to have been so close to her Father once again. Their dining table consisted of her, Jeremy, Georgiana, Trina and Chelsea, Georgiana’s parents and two sisters and Elle’s grandfather, John. Elle had Jeremy on one side and John on the other, which had cheered her up enormously. It was a joy to see her Father laughing so hard and Trina and Chelsea getting told off for playing with their food. After the food, the speeches, the cake, the dancing and the drinking, the day finally came to an end. With each passing hour, Elle became increasingly scared. Jeremy and Georgiana would soon be jetting off to the Maldives for their honeymoon and Elle would be left with her stepsisters and the nanny. She couldn’t bear to be without her Dad for so long and because of that, sat in the Ladies and sobbed quietly to herself for what seemed like ages. It was hard to sleep that night. Before Chelsea had gone to bed she had poked her head around Elle’s bedroom door and said: “Let’s hope your Daddy doesn’t forget about you.” He never did, of course. While Jeremy was present in Elle’s life, Elle was satisfied. She didn’t care what went on in her world or within the family, she was just happy that her Dad was there, that he was with her. He was the only thing that kept her going. And that was why, when the news came on that rainy Sunday afternoon two years later, Elle had broken down and cried so hard that she felt she could never stop. That was why she had refused to speak for days afterwards. That was why she had buried a wedge of pain somewhere deep inside of her for as long as she could remember. Jeremy Fox died on the 15th of September after having been involved in a fatal car accident. He had been on his way home from having lunch with an old friend in Soho. The death was instant and the funeral took place a week later. Extract 3 “I don’t think you understand how very shocked I am at your behaviour, Chelsea.” Chelsea sighed and stopped admiring her nails so that she could look up at Mr. Hughes’ pained facial expression. He blinked several times as if he was expecting her to say something. “Oh,” said Chelsea. “I’m really sorry.” Mr. Hughes sighed. After having caught Chelsea being incredibly rude to a customer, he had apologised sincerely to the woman, even though she had ignored him entirely and stalked off with anger. He had hovered on the spot for a minute before turning to Chelsea and looking at her with disbelief. It always had to be the Franklin girl. She was always doing something wrong, whether it was being late, badmouthing a colleague or just generally getting on his nerves. No doubt that she had a passionate interest in make-up and beauty but her work ethic sucked. By now, Chelsea was bored and tired. She had been working all day – stacking lipsticks really was the equivalent of hard, physical labour – and didn’t want a lecture from the man who was, technically, her boss. His cramped office was making her feel claustrophobic. Chelsea sighed. Sure, she had messed up, but the woman had been equally rude to her. Whose fault was it, really? “When you started working here, I really thought you were great,” Mr. Hughes said. Chelsea rolled her eyes; this was how his lectures always started. “You were passionate about your job,” the supervisor continued. “You were great at drawing attention to Benefit. You got along with the rest of your colleagues. Well, I thought you did. I’m guessing your true colours have started to show over the course of these past few months. And I’m not happy, Chelsea. Not happy.” Chelsea hummed to herself and tried to avoid looking at Mr. Hughes’ face. “I’ve talked to you in the past about your attitude and you’ve always told me that you were willing to change your ways. You’ve been given a verbal warning. You’ve been given a written warning. I really don’t think I’m going to see any improvements in the near future. Have you got anything to say?” Ermm, can I go now? “No.” “Nothing at all?” “It won’t happen again.” “Yeah, it definitely won’t.” He leant back on his chair and shook his head. Chelsea’s heart stopped for a second. What was he implying? “You’ve left me no choice, Chelsea.” “Are you firing me?!” Chelsea said, her voice a little too loud. “Your services are no longer required here at Selfridge’s. I’m going to ring the Benefit head office and inform them of what has happened; meanwhile you can collect your belongings.” Chelsea didn’t move. She was rooted on the chair, mouth slightly parted, eyes wide. This couldn’t happen. Not after months of working at Benefit. She was a loyal employee, she was passionate about the brand, she had the talent, she had the knowledge, she…she couldn’t be getting fired! “Look,” Chelsea said, starting to babble. “I really am sorry, Mr. Hughes. I screwed up. I haven’t been myself recently and I’m not sure why. It’s probably because…well, my Father died not too long ago and I’ve been bottling up so many feelings inside. Sometimes I just…take it out on people who don’t deserve it. You know how it is, right? And…working here isn’t that bad; I’ll admit that sometimes I complain and whine about the job but a job’s a job at the end of the day, right?” Mr. Hughes was too busy looking up the phone number for Benefit in his telephone directory. Chelsea was standing up now, hovering over his desk. Please, Mr. Hughes.” “No, Chelsea. I’m sorry, but you should have thought about the consequences of your actions a long time ago. Please, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave.” Chelsea didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t move. She held her breath. Then, Mr. Hughes looked up at her and that was when Chelsea knew that negotiating wasn’t going to get her anywhere. She exited the office. Jake Selvaggio knocked on the door of Chelsea’s house. It was such a huge building that he doubted anyone would hear. He rang the doorbell, stepped back and then waited. Several minutes later, Liudvika came to the door. “Hi,” Jake said. “Is Chelsea in?” Liudvika shook her head. “She’s still at work. So are Trina and Elle. Miss. Fox is upstairs in her office. You could come inside and wait if you want.” Just then, Liudvika noticed that Chelsea herself had rounded the corner and was heading this way. She was surprised; the girl was not due to finish work for another couple of hours. Nevertheless, she informed Jake and he turned around to greet her. “Jake, how are you?” Chelsea asked and kissed him lightly on the lips. “I’m good, you?” “Could be better. Are you alright?” “Yeah. I wanted to talk to you, actually. Do you want to go down to the park?” Chelsea was mystified. “Sure.” Liudvika smiled at the pair and closed the door, returning to her household duties. It was quite a chilly day but the sun was still shining. Chelsea wondered if it could possibly represent a ray of hope for her. She shivered in her work clothes and quickly took out a hand mirror. She hadn’t cried on the train journey back but she had felt to. Jake took her hand as they strolled along the path. They didn’t exchange many words but Chelsea didn’t mind, she was just happy that Jake was here with her. Quite surprisingly, he hadn’t asked about her day. Chelsea didn’t really want to tell him about what had happened. She still didn’t want to believe it herself. Soon, they were approaching Kensington Road and the entrance to Hyde Park. It wasn’t terribly busy, which was good. They strolled along the path and the birds started chirping amongst the trees; it was a comforting sound for Chelsea. She was going to forget all about what had happened for the time being. She was with Jake now. “So,” Chelsea said, “How was work?” Jake was slightly older than her. At 25, he was working with an accountancy firm called Ernest and Young. It was based in Tower Hill, which meant he had travelled a fair way to get to Chelsea’s house. “It was fine. We’re working on a big client account, so I had lunch with some of their senior personnel. I’ve never tried sushi before,” Jake said, grinning. “I’m not a big fan of it to be honest,” Chelsea said, shivering at the thought of raw fish. “I had an appraisal with my boss as well. He’s a really nice guy. I need to stay in his good books if I’m to get anywhere!” “You’re great at what you do. He’s a fool if he can’t see that.” They continued walking. It was beginning to get cloudy; Chelsea expected Jake to give her his jacket but he was staring firmly ahead, perhaps off in space. “Anyways, what did you want to talk about?” Chelsea asked. “Oh. It’s just…something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while.” He looked at Chelsea and her heart thumped loudly. What was he going to say? Jake didn’t usually act like this. He didn’t usually think so deeply about things, especially when it came to their relationship. Maybe he was going to talk about their anniversary? Or maybe...maybe because their anniversary was coming up, he was going to suggest taking their relationship to the next level. Was he going to propose?? “Chels, I don’t really know how to say this. I'm not gonna lie, I'm nervous." “Ok. It’s alright, just say it.” Chelsea replied, breathing heavily, gripping onto his hands and smiling. She thought that she might swoon with happiness. “This isn’t working. I want us to break up.” Chelsea felt like she had just been hit by a bus. A great big double-decker bus with iron wheels. Breaking up? What in God’s name is he thinking? “Hear me out.” Jake repeated, even though Chelsea was now speechless. “I know we’ve been going out for a while but I feel like I’m…I feel like there’s a certain disconnection between us. I don’t think I love you anymore.” “Have you cheated on me?!” Chelsea asked, staring at the ground. “No. Believe me, I’d feel terrible.” “But you don’t feel terrible now?” “It’s not that, it’s….Chelsea, you’re a nice person. You’re outgoing, you’re funny, you’re sexy as hell but you’re just not for me. You’re wild. Look at what happened at New Year’s-” “Who doesn’t get drunk on New Year’s?!” “Yes, but that’s just one example. Every time you get wasted it’s always me that has to deal with you. It’s embarrassing, for God’s sake. You run around doing this, doing that, you think that the world revolves around you. You need to realise that it doesn’t. I know we’ve had some good times but I just can’t cope with you being selfish all the time. I want you to love me but I think you’re too in love with yourself.” Chelsea didn’t know what to say. Jake’s words weren’t sinking in. Deal with you… Embarrassing… Revolves around you… Selfish all the time… In love with yourself… She looked up to face him; he was sad but angry and Chelsea’s heart started to break. “How could you?” Chelsea hissed, after the feeling of despair had subsided. “How could you do this to me just before our anniversary?” “Would you have preferred If I’d told you on the day?” “Of course not! We shouldn’t be breaking up in the first place!” “Chelsea, you have to respect how I feel. A relationship involves two people, not one.” “Don’t act like I’m dumb!” Chelsea yelled, stamping her foot on the ground. “I know how a relationship works! I thought we had something Jake, I really thought we did. Why would you decide to ruin it? Why? Why would you assume that I don’t love you?” By now, several people were starting to stop and stare. Jake looked around and then at the ground. “Stop shouting,” he said. “No! I won’t fucking stop shouting!” Chelsea turned to face her small audience. “Yeah, look at us! This guy is breaking up with me and do you know what? He’s got the lousiest excuse in the world!” “Chelsea!” The bystanders started to walk away, nervous and slightly shocked. Chelsea turned back to face Jake; his eyebrows were knitting together in frustration. “This is what I mean,” he said. “You always have to cause such a scene. You act like a spoilt brat. What’s wrong with you?” “Shut up!” Chelsea shouted, her voice cracking. She knew she was going to start crying at any minute. “I’m so upset! How can you just stand there and accuse me? I got fired today, did you know that? Yes, I got FIRED. I’m not exactly the world’s happiest person right now! So, you know what? Fuck this. It’s over, me and you are OVER. That’s what you wanted and now you’re getting it. I don’t care anymore. You're crap in bed anyway. I hope you lose your job.” She turned to walk away from him but then at the last minute, changed her mind. “Oh, and by the way, my eyes are BROWN. They’re not blue. Yeah, I lied to you about that. Don't act like you know me!!" Chelsea stalked back down the path and that was when the tears started to cascade down her cheeks. Extract 4 There was silence for a moment as Chelsea decided on her words. She really didn’t want to be having this conversation right now. She fidgeted with her nails, sat back in her chair and then leaned forward again. Georgiana concluded that something must be very wrong. “I broke up with Jake,” Chelsea said finally. Elle put her cutlery down. “Really?!” she said. “Is that why you were crying so terribly hard?” Trina said, raising an eyebrow. “Ok, ok. He dumped me,” Chelsea replied scornfully. “Why would he do that?” Georgiana asked. Chelsea shrugged. “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Well, she wasn’t going to tell them everything that Jake had said, was she? Georgiana took a sip of the wine and then looked at Chelsea, her eyes narrowing. She picked up her cutlery again. “There’s something else,” she said. It wasn’t a question. It was a demand for Chelsea to answer to. Chelsea swallowed and felt her heart rate increase. Elle felt slightly sorry for Chelsea at this moment in time but Trina was on the edge of her seat, waiting for Chelsea to open up about the bad news so that she could laugh. “I got fired,” Chelsea said, slumping down on her seat. Georgiana threw her cutlery back down on the plate with a clatter. “What?!” “What?!” echoed Elle. “No way!” said Trina, breaking into a spiteful grin. Chelsea had no words. She waited for the ground to swallow her up. “Well, I don’t quite know what to say,” Georgiana said, leaning back in her seat with astonishment. “Are you lying to me?” “Why the hell would I lie to you about that?” Chelsea shot back. “Don’t you dare use that tone with me. You’ve got absolutely no right to.” Chelsea was on the verge of tears once again. “Unbelievable!” Trina said gleefully. “I’ve been waiting for this moment, you know. Waiting for the day that Chelsea finally makes a total cock-up of her job!” “Shut your face, Trina!” “Don’t get angry with me. I’m not the one who’s blown yet another chance!” “I’ve been working there for months, actually.” “Stop arguing at the table!” Georgiana said, getting angry. Her 23-year-old daughters acted like babies at times. “Big deal!” said Trina, still counter-attacking her sister. “You always manage to fail everything, don’t you? Are you going to get another job, Chels? Are you?” “Of course I’m going to get another job! I don’t happen to need a degree for the field of work I’m interested in!” Chelsea snapped. “That’s lucky, because you’d never get one anyway!” “Enough!” said Georgiana, doubling her previous volume. “Stop talking, both of you!” Chelsea and Trina sat back in their seats, chicken ragu totally abandoned on the dining table. Elle took a long sip of her water and sighed. She looked at Liudvika, who had just seconds ago been mesmerised by the argument but was retreating to the kitchen with haste. “I don’t understand,” Georgiana said to Chelsea. “You’ve been given two previous warnings. Why did you have to blow it?” “It just happened. I’m sorry.” Georgiana wasn’t hungry anymore. Elle seemed to be the only person eating. She took a bite of her food, hoping no-one would notice.

“You’ll never get another job now, not after having being fired from the vacancy that was most productive-” “Mother! How can you say such a thing?” “It’s true. You have no degree and your A Level results were shameful, to say the least.” Chelsea noticed Trina smirking. “They weren’t that bad!” she said, ignoring her sister. “All I’m saying is that it is going to be difficult for you to…continue. Any further.” “Continue with what?” Georgiana sighed. Elle toyed with her food. Trina raised her eyebrows. And Chelsea got up from the table and left the room. “Chelsea! Come back,” said Georgiana, taking a large gulp of the wine and then sighing. Chelsea slowly retraced her steps. Her eyes were red and she ran her hand through her messy hair. “What?” she said. “I want you to work in the café with Elle.” Chelsea’s brow furrowed and Elle’s eyes went wide. She had been happy not to have been involved in the conversation up until now; why was Georgiana suggesting something so silly? “I’m not going to allow her to stay jobless for any longer,” Georgiana explained. “But I won’t be jobless for much longer,” Chelsea muttered. “It will take too long for you to find another outlet, Chelsea. I’ve given you too much over the years and you’ve always taken advantage of that. I want you to earn properly, and the café is a perfect place for you to gain some new skills.” “She can’t even make coffee!” said Elle. “Don’t you start on me too!” Chelsea said indignantly. “I’m just saying.” “You will teach her,” said Georgiana to Elle. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to end the conversation here. We will talk no more of it tonight. Chelsea, I want a word with you first thing tomorrow morning.” It never ceased to amaze the girls how Georgiana could get away with acting like a businesswoman during family hours.

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