“The Truth About Ellen” by Sarah Louise Smith
Blurb: It’s every girl’s dream to date a pop star…
When Ellen starts dating Tom, a member of the band she adored as a teenager, she can’t believe how lucky she is.
She neglects to mention that she’s a huge fan because that just wouldn’t be cool, would it?
Ellen also keeps quiet about how she once spent an evening with Tom’s ex-bandmate/ex-best friend Jasper, her long-term celebrity crush. Tom doesn’t need to know about that, it’s all in the past.
That is until Tom and Jasper get back in touch… and the truth threatens to ruin everything Ellen has ever dreamed of…
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Hello! Thanks so much to Isabella for letting me guest on her blog today. If you haven’t heard of me before, I’m Sarah Louise Smith, a British chick-lit author with a passion for the colour yellow, eating lobster and watching romantic comedies.
Read on for a sneak preview of the first chapter in my new novel, “The Truth About Ellen”
I’ve always been the clumsiest person in any given room. When I was 16, I was at a Four Ape concert (my favourite band) and I actually fell down the stairs on the way out of the arena and broke my wrist. Another time, when I was 24, I was out shopping with my mum and I tripped, sprained an ankle and broke two ribs.
I’m always tripping, falling, slipping, dropping, breaking and losing things. The fact that I’d made it to 28 with a mostly intact body, still functioning and breathing and going about a fairly normal existence, was a miracle of epic proportions.
So, it was no surprise to me that as I peeled the foil off my mini Easter egg and took a small bite that the whole thing crumbled in my hands, leaving my chin, work desk and lap covered in rapidly melting shards of chocolate.
“Yummy aren’t they?” said my co-worker, Darby, taking a dainty bite of hers without creating any mess whatsoever.
Darby was pretty much the opposite of me. I couldn’t imagine that she’d ever tripped up the stairs, lost her mother’s favourite necklace, forgotten her best friend’s birthday, or even had a single hair out of place her entire life. She always came into the office looking like she’d just stepped out of a glossy magazine. Her face was made up with just the right amount of make-up to give her that naturally stunning look, and her clothes always fit beautifully as if designed and made to measure (which they probably were). And her sing-song voice never uttered a word that wasn’t worth the whole office hearing. I hated her. I wasn’t jealous … honest. I just didn’t need someone that perfect in my life, thank you very much.
Oscar, our boss, had left a small egg on each of our desks as a token thanks for our ‘hard work’. As I’d only been with the company for five months, and my last boss had barely muttered ‘good morning’ to me when she arrived each day, I thought this was pretty generous.
My co-workers had, however, complained that he’d given them much larger eggs the year before.
I sat in a pod of four desks with Darby, plus another two girls – Margot and Tammy. Margot was nearing retirement and kept quiet most of the day, until anyone started talking about television and then she piped up and gave her opinion on what had been on the night before. Darby and Tammy were close friends who talked all day about their love-lives, gossiped about their mutual chums and other col- leagues, or debated fashion and celebrities. In fact they chatted all day about anything they could think of. I mostly kept myself to myself and tried to work hard; I was still on probation and I needed this job. I had rent and bills to pay, a car to run, and a cat to feed. Plus there was always shed-loads of work to be getting on with.
Today was no exception; I had a report to prepare for Oscar, and as it was the last day before the East- er break we were all leaving after lunch. I blocked out the others’ chitter-chatter, trying to concentrate on what I was working on, but then something Darby said caught my attention and I couldn’t ignore it.
“I hear Four Ape are rumoured to be getting back together.”
Four Ape. My favourite band. Ever. I was 13 when they burst onto the music scene with a cool blend of indie-rock. I was at just the right age to develop a huge celebrity crush and Four Ape were the perfect band for me to become fanatical about.
I went to their concerts, I donned their t-shirts, and I wore out lots of VHS cassette tapes by recording all their television appearances. Every square inch of my bedroom walls and ceiling was covered in posters and magazine cut-outs. I doodled their logo every time a pen and slip of paper presented itself.
Laura, my best friend back then, was also a huge fan. Her favourite was George, who was the eldest and the drummer. Then there was Alex who played the keyboard; Tom the bass guitarist, who wrote most of the songs. But while I loved them all, I was totally in love with Jasper, the bad boy and lead singer. I would scowl each time I saw paparazzi shots of him coming out of a bar with his arm around a stunning skinny girl, who no doubt didn’t realise just how wonderful he was. That should’ve been me.
Then one day, when I was about 18, the band split up and went their separate ways. Jasper launched a huge solo career, which I’d also followed closely, buying every album and seeing him live every time he went on tour. I even met him once. My heart fluttered at the memory.
The rest of Four Ape hadn’t really been heard of much since; they’d just faded into obscurity. Until now. “Did you just say Four Ape are getting back together?” I asked Darby, hoping I’d be able to hide my over-excitement. “Well, that’s what I read. I don’t know if it’s true.” I turned back to my computer screen and wondered if the world would be graced with another amazing album. I hadn’t been in touch with Laura for years; we were friends on Facebook but we’d drifted apart. She had a husband and two kids now, and I was still a kid myself, so our lives were very different. I wondered if she’d heard this gossip and thought of me, too. How crazy we were for those four boys back then, although of course they were men now.
“Ellen, can I see you for a moment?” Oscar called from his office. I took another bite of chocolate – more carefully this time – and made my way to his little room. It was bright and clean, not a pencil out of place. I glanced at the framed photo of his wife and children, and smiled. They always looked like such a cute little family.
“So, you’ve been here five months now, yes?”
Oh. I’d thought this was about some work I’d been doing for him. Didn’t he like me? Was my probation over already? What would I do if he let me go? Would my parents be able to help me pay the bills?
“Yes,” I said, working out how much of a parental loan I’d need to request. Maybe I could get a temp job. If I went to an agency right now, how soon could they get me some contract work?
“And do you like it?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling my hands turn sweaty. Why does that always happen to me? Wet hands are not what I need in times of crisis. Stupid body.
“Good, because I’ve been really impressed with you so far.” What? Oh. I relaxed into my seat a little more and tried to subtly rub my sticky hands on my skirt. “Thank you.” “So we’d like to offer you a permanent contract now. And assuming you want to accept, there’s an induction training course every permanent employee has to go on, so we’ll get you booked on that.” I’d heard about these training courses from the others; they usually put you in some hellish hotel and you spent five days watching lifeless colleagues tell you about the business you’d already been working in for several months, staring at presentation slides and wishing you’d turned the offer down. But it was a week away from home; maybe it’d be good for me. Anyway, I needed the job. A permanent contract – yay! “That’s great. Thank you so much Oscar.” “No, thank you. You’ve fitted in well and worked hard. I’m really impressed.” I smiled and felt myself blush. “Thank you.”
“Right, okay, I’ll sort the paperwork.” I wondered how I’d managed to work hard and do well at a career I’d never planned, wanted, or dreamt about. I was proud of myself. Bergman and Strauss was a large company with a great reputation and I’d worked hard to get the job I was in. Yet I was kind of disappointed that this had become my life. Surely no one ever dreamt of working in an office all day long as a kid? But then again, my dream of be- coming a tooth fairy had been just a tad unrealistic. And I had no idea what I’d do instead.
I went back to my desk and told the others my news.
“Oh, my induction was in a dingy hotel in Birmingham,” Darby told me, repeating what she’d said on my first day. “It was totes boring.”
“I went to the Dublin office for mine,” Margot told us. She mustn’t have been around on my first day because I’d have remembered that. Dublin wouldn’t be so bad.
“Mine was in the German office in Frankfurt,” Tammy told me for the second time. “They rotate it every time.”
“Well, let’s hope there’s an office right next to a sandy beach in Greece,” I said, sitting down at my desk and thinking that it was probably this office and I’d not get to go anywhere, not even Birmingham.
“There’s no Greek office,” Darby told me solemnly. I knew that already but didn’t bother to point it out. “There’s one in Spain though, so you might get lucky. Or California!”
“Henry in sales got to go to the LA office last time,” Tammy chipped in. “But he said there wasn’t much time for sightseeing with all the boring stuff they make you do.” Wow, now I really couldn’t wait to go. It sounded worse than being at my desk.
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Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, England with her husband, step-daughter, loopy golden retriever and cheeky tortie cat.
Sarah has been writing stories since she can remember and has so far completed four chick-lit novels, all published by Crooked Cat: Amy & Zach, Izzy’s Cold Feet, Independent Jenny, and The Truth About Ellen.