From CHAPTER 3
I was about to pick up my phone to call Jackie, when I received a FaceTime call from her. Jackie lives in an affordable three-bedroom apartment in Queens, with her husband and my niece and nephew. She has always had a knack for calling me exactly when I needed to talk to her but didn’t want to call and admit that I was freaking out. She was three years older than me, and had for the most part treated me like an annoying little sister while we were growing up, but after our mother died suddenly when I was in my final year of university, she instantly became the kind of big sister I’d always longed for her to be—she gave me all the tough love and sass I needed and then some.
I accepted the video call and bit into a floppy old carrot while being welcomed with a blurry shot of her cleavage, as she looked for something in a cupboard. She got the awesome knockers, and I got the half-off rack. It’s so unfair.
“Hi hang on,” she muttered, then called out to her kids. “You know what just have pudding—one each!”
“Oh that’s healthy.”
She peered into her phone at me. “Oh I’m sorry—this from a grown woman who’s eating a limp carrot?”
I took one last bite of the thing, then tossed it into the waste bin, and went back to my bedroom to pack. “Did your boobs get bigger?”
“I’m retaining water and I accidentally shrunk all of my bras in the dryer. It’s been a great day. Your niece would like to speak with you.” Jackie aimed the phone’s camera at her five year-old daughter Franny. Franny was hugging a stuffed bunny rabbit that was about a foot taller than she was. The rabbit was so big it took up half the width of their kitchen. It would never fit inside Franny’s room. I knew my sister would kill me, but it was available for Same Day Delivery, and I just wanted to buy it. But Franny looked like she was madly in love with it and she was so happy she was jumping up and down and screaming—although to be honest, she was almost always jumping up and down and screaming.
Franny looked up at the phone and screamed directly into it. “THANK YOU AUNT AVERYYYYYY! I love him I love him I love him I love him I love him!”
I would love to love anything as much as that girl claims to love Mr. Bunny, I thought to myself, as I turned the volume down on my phone. “You are so welcome, sweetheart! I saw Mr. Bunny in a store window at lunch today and he waved at me and said ‘take me to Franny’s house, I want to live with her forever!’”
She didn’t stop jumping as she frowned at me and said, “You did not—you got him on Amazon!”
“I love you too, Honey, put your mom back on!”
Franny went back to screaming and Jackie went into the kitchen. “I take it by the size of the gift that you won’t be attending the party on Saturday.”
“I’m so so sorry—something came up.” I removed six pairs of my sexiest undergarments from my panty drawer and placed them in the suitcase.
“Something always comes up.”
“Hey man, I was just there on New Years for three hours!” I removed the sexy undergarments from the suitcase, put them back in the drawer and packed sensible cotton underwear instead.
“Where are you off to this time?”
“The Bahamas. It’s a nightmare.”
“I think that’s their official slogan. Come to the Bahamas—it’s your worst nightmare!”
I replaced the sensible undies with the sexy ones, and added an extra couple of pairs for good measure. “I have no idea how to pack for this.”
“What are you so worked up about?”
“I’m not worked up.”
“It’s nothing, shut up.”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
I sighed. “Luke Mason is going to be there.”
My sister caught her breath and her eyes widened. “Jackson—watch your sister! I’ll be in my office for five minutes!” She retreated to the bathroom and shut the door. “This is so amazing! I mean, you said you were sad because this transatlantic deal was almost wrapped up and you might not have an excuse to Skype with him anymore.”
“When did I say that?”
“During the unbearable three hours you spent here on New Years.”
Damn you, wine! When will you learn not to tell my sister everything?!
“Do you have a slutty bikini?”
I was rifling through my bathroom drawer, looking for a razor, three ounce perfume, and red lipstick. “Why would I have a bikini? I haven’t taken a vacation in ten years.”
“A tankini? A burqini?”
“I have no ini wear of any kind.”
She waved her hand, dismissively. “You can get something at the airport. This is thrilling. Why are you so freaked out about seeing him?! He’s basically your best friend.”
“You’re my best friend.”
“I’m your sister, I have to put up with you. He answers the phone when you call him at four a.m. and sends you your favorite kind of marmalade for your birthday even though you haven’t had sex with him.”
It was true—I had once mentioned that my local British grocery store stopped carrying my favorite brand of marmalade, and a month later I came to my office on my birthday and found a beautiful gift basket filled with jars of marmalade and crumpets and English muffins. I was able to convince myself that it was a classy business gift and a tax write-off for him, but Jackie instantly proclaimed that he was in love with me or at the very least expected and deserved a picture of my boobs. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to believe, but regardless, it was incredibly sweet and thoughtful of him.
“You communicate with him every day.”
“Not on weekends or holidays.”
“He’s your best friend,” she went on. “Why are you so afraid of being in the same room as him?”
“Well, it’s complicated. We just get along so well.”
“Uh huh.” I was acutely aware that my sister was urinating while we discussed this, and that she was simultaneously tidying up the magazines and books around the toilet with her free hand.
“And he’s ridiculously handsome and funny and he has an English accent.”
“And you’re desperately in love with him.”
“Obviously I am not in love—it’s strictly business.” I grabbed the small, unopened box of condoms from my bedside table—the one on the other side of the bed from where I kept Mr. Potter. They expired in a month. I figured I might as well pack them, in case somebody else on the island needed them, so they wouldn’t go to waste.
“You’re packing condoms right now, aren’t you?”
I gasped. “You witch!”
She flushed the toilet and put the phone down on top of the vanity while she washed her hands, then took a moment to gargle with mouthwash, wipe down the tiles and tidy up around the sink. The Davis women are natural born multi-taskers.
“You don’t know me!” I sighed very dramatically. “This is the biggest contract of my career, we’re still in the post-integration phase, which is critical. I have to stay focused. I can’t get sidetracked.”
She spits out the mouthwash. “Honey, you need to get sidetracked—hard—multiple times. You need to get snogged and shagged and buggered senseless. You gotta seal that transatlantic deal. You need to ride the ol’ Union Jack flagpole if you know what I’m saying. You need to integrate with his post!”
I had to sit down, I was laughing so hard. “Stop! Oh my God! Seriously, this is not part of the plan. I need to become a manager when I’m twenty-nine so I’m on track to make partner by the time I’m thirty-five, marry a nice, un-ambitious but totally respectable and responsible man when I’m thirty-six and adopt an Asian baby that my husband can stay at home to take care of while I start my own firm.”
“Also he’ll be a really good cook and excellent lover and have a trust fund while still being very down-to-earth. Also I will magically maintain the same weight throughout my whole life without ever having to exercise!”
“I know you’re saying a bunch of words that mean a lot to you, but all I’m hearing is ‘blah blah blah I need to have sexual intercourse with an Englishman and also get a life.’”
“Yeah you know, one day I do hope to shag an Englishman, one in particular, well two in particular, including 2003 Jude Law, but I don’t have the time or the emotional bandwidth to deal with it at this particular point in my life. Maybe I can have a hot fling with Luke after I’ve made partner, right before I meet the man I will marry! Yes, I can definitely squeeze that in.”
“I am so sad for you right now. You should take that red dress you wore to that fundraiser last summer!”
I sucked in my breath. “I can’t take that! I look way too good in it! It’s way too sexy!” I went to the closet, pulled out the red dress and packed it into the suitcase, along with some strappy heels to go with them. “My body hasn’t been exposed to sunshine since we went to Florida with Mom. My skin is practically transparent.”
“Well, Luke’s from England, he’s used to pale skin.”
“Yeah, he doesn’t look all that pale to me, but maybe it’s just good lighting.”
“He probably goes to Greece for the weekend or something.”
“I wouldn’t really know, we don’t talk about specifics when it comes to our personal lives.”
“Oh good that means you’ll have something new to talk about while you’re shagging.”
“Please. It is a work trip. Besides, we might not even get along in person—and also it doesn’t even matter because it’s a work trip.”
“Your sex life needs work.”
“Stop. I shouldn’t even be discussing this with you.”
“You should discuss how his penis works! It’s time for him to FaceTime with your vagina.”
I snort-laughed, and then suddenly froze up.
“What is happening? Did FaceTime freeze or did you?”
“Nothing. No. I’m fine. I just don’t think I’m emotionally prepared to deal with him in a tropical non-business environment.”
“Because you’re afraid you’ll fall in love with him and you aren’t capable of making a real commitment?”
“Excuse me, I am the most committed person I know—besides Luke.”
“Sounds like a match to me! Why can’t you let yourself be happy?”
THE FLIRTATION (Work Less, Play More Book Two) is a standalone romantic comedy. No cheating, no cliffhanger, HEA! Available for pre-order now and in Kindle Unlimited on November 13 2017 HERE