That evening, Kate had had enough. The day’s events had destroyed her wardrobe. Her best suit was a disaster. The stains would probably defeat even her trusty dry cleaner. She’d be claiming the whole lot back on expenses.
Driving back home for fresh clothes seemed like a better bet than sitting in the boring hotel bar and rehashing the day with her colleagues. Pulling up into the underground car park beneath her apartment block, she sighed with relief. The car had tested the speed cameras on the A14 to get back here, but all she wanted to do was collapse in her own bath with a glass of sauvignon.
Kate turned off the ignition and stared into space for a moment trying to think positive thoughts.
Great job – tick
Great flat – tick
Great wardrobe – big tick.
But in the back of her mind she felt maybe something was missing. Upstairs in her stylish home, the only welcome would be the faint meow of Olly the cat.
Turning to pick up her take-away from the passenger seat, a smartly printed business card was dislodged from the gap it had been jammed into in the dashboard. On the front it read:
Kate Smith. Chief Executive.
K.O.D. – Change Management. We make the difference.
She looked at the words for a minute and smiled; that was her, MD of her own company, something that gave her a warm feeling that wasn’t attributable to the heated seats in her car.
For Kate, her business was more than just a job, it was her life. Solihull born, educated at an average comprehensive, and the youngest of three children, her two older brothers had made sure she stayed the bottom of the pecking order at all times. Her mother had always shrieked in horror when Kate had appeared from an afternoon playing with the boys. She would be covered in mud, her clothing all torn yet there was always a big smile on her face. Growing up a tomboy thanks to years of fighting with her older brothers had ensured she developed a tough shell, essential for climbing the corporate ladder in later years.
Hitting the business world running after University, Kate had discovered that she needed more than just a brash attitude and the ability to throw great insults to get on in the world. She had worked her way up by quick thinking and building an armour of designer suits to keep everyone at arm’s length. But behind this tough exterior, Kate’s life didn’t extend very far beyond her work. Obviously, she had acquired the usual disparate collection of Facebook “friends” but these were mainly old workmates and people she half knew from University. Most wouldn’t recognize her on the street, far less cross the road for a chat. It didn’t matter to her, she had crawled her way to the top kicking and screaming and wasn’t about to let a little thing like friendship get in the way of her career goals.
K.O.D. was really Kate’s baby and she had poured all her love and affection into getting the business off the ground. Opening the door of her apartment, Olly mewed a greeting and curled himself around her legs, purring contently. She walked across to her SMEG fridge and pulled out a bottle of a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Grabbing a glass from her cupboard, she made short shrift of the cork and enjoyed the sound of the crisp, clean wine as it glugged into her glass.
Curling up on the sofa in her Juicy tracksuit she stroked a purring Olly.
“Oh puss, what a nightmare day I’ve had. I’m wet, dirty and knackered. To cap it all I saw Dave. You remember me telling you about him? The one that got away. Well Ol, he’s back, looking cute as ever. I just don’t know what to do.”
She buried her face in his warm, furry tummy. Anyone watching would have thought she was just cuddling the cat but silent tears fell from her eyes as she snuggled him.
Seeing Dave had left her so confused and she really wanted to avoid talking about that in the hotel bar. If they guessed at a connection, her staff would all want to grill her about him, the man who knew ‘Ice Maiden’ Kate before she was so frosty.
A career girl through and through, the brush with Dave all those years ago had left her only interested in one thing, work. Falling in love with a man, well that was a weakness and Kate didn’t admit to weakness. As far as she could see it only got in the way of her true goal – to own her own successful company – and she was well on her way to that.
Only sometimes, when sat in the lounge of a friend’s house as toddlers ran round their legs and their husband made the coffee, did she find herself wondering what it would be like to be involved in a more personal kind of partnership.
Walking into her bedroom, Kate pulled a dusty box from the top of the wardrobe. Opening it she looked down at the piles of curling photographs. Rifling in the bottom there was a faux leather photo album. Sitting on the bed she began flicking through the photos, taken from her university days.
Staring out from one page was a photo of her and Dave, in full rock climbing gear, on top of some mountain or other. Kate had first met him on a trip to the Peak District and they’d bonded over crampons and Kendal Mint cake. Something seemed to click between the two of them and it quickly became coffees and lunch every day at Uni. She had a boyfriend, but quickly realised her feelings for Dave were different.
Leafing through the pages there was another memorable photo – her perched on the end of Dave’s hospital bed. They’d taken off climbing for a day for a break from the last minute exam cramming. Bravado and his Ford Escort had taken them to Wild Cat Crags in the Peak District where even hardened climbers had second thoughts about some of its heights.
Dave had saved her life, she’d lost her footing and found herself hanging 100ft in the air with only the rope and Dave between her and certain death.
The memory was still vivid enough to send a chill through her bones. Somehow Dave found enough inner strength to pull her back from the edge. She’d never been so frightened in her life. It was a turning point, nearly dying sealed a determination that nothing and no one would get in her way. Her time with the boyfriend was done, she wanted to be with Dave.
Sadly, things hadn’t turned out that way, Dave ended up in hospital after the climbing accident and by the time he came out the job he’d applied for had come through, in Washington DC working for a senator. In a week he was gone.
Closing the album, she piled all the photos back in the box and returned it to the wardrobe. Rubbing a tear from her eye, she turned towards the bathroom.
“Enough of this rubbish,” she said, looking down at a purring Olly, “time for a nice hot bath, a few glasses of vino and a good night sleep. I need all the beauty sleep I can get these days!”
Candice: So, there you go, a taste of the fun that is ‘Kate vs the Dirtboffins’.
We’d love to know what you think, so to encourage you to read the rest we’ve reduced the price of our e-book to 99p
And for the first person to comment on this blog post we’ll send you a signed paper copy (worldwide postage, you will need to supply postage details).
Yes, a copy from Candice and Phil, just think in a few years it might be worth something!
And if you really like it tell all your friends.
Once we’ve got you hooked then ‘Kate vs the Navy’ will be out soon. It’s got the same core team of Kate, Gareth, Tracey and Kelvin, but with thrills and spills with the team all at sea closing down a naval base. Of course, things are not as simple as that, with Dave re-appearing Kate’s life and the Navy crew having other ideas about what the Ministry of Defence should do with them.
But hey, life would be boring for KOD if not.