Going the Distance
Maddy Beckett lives in the horse-racing village of Milton St John. Recovered from a disastrous love-affair and running her own small business, she’s happy being single until she meets and falls for the gorgeous Drew Fitzgerald. Everything about Drew is perfect – until his cool and impossibly elegant wife appears on the scene. Maddy loves Drew, but doesn’t know if she loves him enough to become “the other woman”? Morally, it’s out of the question, but physically …?
Has their relationship got what it takes to go the distance …?
She was sure her suspenders were showing. Twisting around, craning her neck to check in the mirror, Maddy grinned. They were covered. Just.
Even with the breath-taking aid of Fran’s second-best basque, Maddy had always known the dress was going to be too tight and far too short. Resignedly tugging the borrowed grey, crepe shift over her head, she gazed dolefully at her wardrobe. She couldn’t wear the green velvet again – which left an exciting choice between the black skirt and the black trousers, either of which would need a suitable party top …
With a sigh, she hurled Fran’s dress on to her bed, where it hovered for a moment before slithering to the floor amidst several discarded newspapers and an empty tub of Slimfast. A week ago she had vowed she would live on nothing but Slimfast. She was going to slink into tonight’s party looking svelte and toned and seductive, and Peter would wonder why he had ever left her for Stacey, the bow-legged stick-insect.
Of course, she hadn’t reckoned on the Slimfast being quite so moreish – especially when mixed with condensed milk and a dollop of Cornish ice cream …Maddy kicked the diet plan under the bed and decided to seek consolation in a chocolate Hobnob. It was only the insistent chirrup of the telephone that prevented her from polishing off the remains of the packet.
‘How was the dress?’ Fran’s voice was that of the eternal optimist. ‘OK with the corset, was it?’
Maddy pulled a face. ‘No. It wouldn’t have been OK with steel girders. The basque helped a lot – but I still looked like a lumpy pillow.’
‘Pity.’ Fran giggled. ‘It always has the desired effect on Richard.’
‘That’s probably because I’m two sizes larger than you – or because Richard is turned on by lumpy pillows. Thanks for trying, Fran, but it looks like it’ll have to be the black skirt again – if I can find a top.’ She shrugged. ‘Maybe I’ll give the party a miss.’
‘Oh no.’ Fran became school-marmish. ‘Maddy Beckett, you are not a quitter. You’ll shimmy in there tonight – as we planned – and hit Peter right between the eyes.’
‘My chest’ll probably do that,’ Maddy said. ‘Always supposing that the thighs don’t get him first.’
‘Good girl. A man likes a sense of humour, although why you’re attempting to waste it on Peter, God only knows. Especially after the way he –’
‘Fran.’ The word was heavy with dire threat.
‘OK. OK. You loved him – you still love him.’
‘No I don’t,’ Maddy protested. ‘I want to prove that I’ve survived and prospered without him. That there is life in Milton St John without Peter Knightley. And life in Maddy Beckett … It’s just that if he’s got Stacey in tow I’ll feel like a beached whale.’
‘Which, as I recall, was what he likened you to.’ Fran’s voice dripped ice. ‘The bastard.’
‘Well, I am a bit overweight.’
‘Nonsense,’ Fran said briskly. ‘You’re curvy and pretty and sexy. Peter Knightley was a prat.’
‘People always say hurtful things at the end of a relationship.’ Maddy was beginning to shiver inside the basque. She really must remember to ask someone to look at the boiler. It slept soundly all day, conserving its energy for sporadic bursts of tropical heat at about three in the morning. ‘I’m sure I was just as unpleasant. Anyway, it’s all history. I’ll drop your things off tomorrow on my way to work.’