Sushi For Beginners - Extract

'Dammit' she realized. 'I think I'm having a nervous breakdown.' She looked around at the bed she was flung in. Her well-overdue-for-a-change sheet. Tissues, sodden and balled, littered the duvet. Gathering dust on her chest of drawers was an untouched arsenal of chocolate. Scattered on the floor were magazines she'd been unable to concentrate on. The television in the corner relentlessly delivered daytime viewing direct to her bed. Yip, nervous-breakdown territory all right.

But something was wrong. What was it?

'I always thought...' she tried. 'You know, I always expected...' Abruptly she knew. 'I always thought it would be nicer than this...'

* * * * * *

At Femme magazine, something had been in the air for weeks, a feeling that they were living on a fault-line. Speculation finally burst into flames when it was confirmed that Calvin Carter, the US Managing Director, had been sighted roaming around the top floor, looking for the gents'. Apparently he'd just arrived in London from head-office in New York.

It's happening. Lisa clenched her fists in excitement. It's actually finally, bloody happening.

Later that day the phone all came. Would Lisa pop upstairs to see Calvin Carter and British MD, Barry Hollingsworth?

Lisa slammed down the phone. 'Too right I would,' she shouted at it.

Her colleagues barely looked up. People slamming phones down, then shouting, were ten a penny in the magazine game. Besides, they were trapped in deadline Hell - if they didn't get this month's issue put to bed by nightfall, they'd miss their slot with the printers and would be scooped once again by arch-rivals Marie-Claire. But what did Lisa care, she thought, hobbling to the lift, she wouldn't have a job here after today. She'd have a much better one somewhere else.

Lisa was kept waiting outside the boardroom for twenty-five minutes. After all, Barry and Calvin were very important men.

'Should we let her in yet?' Barry asked Calvin, when he felt they'd killed enough time.

'It's only twenty minutes since we called her,' Calvin pointed out, huffily. Obviously Barry Hollingsworth didn't realise just how important, he, Calvin Carter, was.

'Sorry, I thought it was later. Perhaps you'd show me again how to improve my swing.'

'Sure. Now, head down and hold still. Hold still! Feet steady, left arm straight, and swing!'