Monthly Archives: March 2022

Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 13

And then she was floating above the stage. It was amazing!”

Tracey regaled the office with the description of the previous nights show. Each telling made it seem even more impressive, but she really had enjoyed the night. Sparks wasn’t as new-wave and exciting as his clothing suggested, but quite unexpectedly, she found herself staying for the whole show. He really could hold an audience. For much of the night, those green eyes seemed to be looked at her, but that was obviously part of the act.

Diwata from accounts yawned. “Oh, when my hubby and I went to Las Vegas last year, we saw that David Copperfield. Now that is a magic show. I bet but your Sparky boy didn’t make an elephant disappear in front of your eyes did he?”

Tracey had to admit that there had been a distinct lack of vanishing zoo animals. “It’s Sparks, and no. But then I don’t agree with animals being used on stage anyway, so I’m glad he didn’t.” she replied haughtily. Brenda was always trying to get one over on her.

At the end of the show, she had taken a trip backstage to congratulate Sparks, but the dressing room door was firmly shut again and the tech staff were doing their best to ignore the raised voices inside. She decided to leave congratulations for a later date, but on the way out couldn’t resist sticking her head into another room and staring at her reflection in the mirror. It was one of those proper theatre types with light bulbs around the outside. OK, half of them didn’t work, but for a moment she was lost in a dream from her childhood. The dream of being on stage in a pretty dress with the audience clapping and cheering. A dream that she never quite got around to chasing once parties and boys came along.

There had been a few idle thoughts about applying for a reality TV show, but if Tracey was going to be stuck in a room with a bunch of deadbeats, she could get this at work. At least this offered the ability to escape sometimes. As for chowing down on a kangaroo’s willy in a jungle, it made her shudder.

Looking back at her was maybe a different Tracey. One who had studied drama and the toured the country sleeping in cheap rooms, eating Pot Noodle and wearing clothes from charity shops. Through the wall came the sound of creative differences being argued out. With a shudder, she decided that perhaps her life wasn’t so bad all.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 12


It wasn’t the sound Tracey expected to hear as they entered the dressing room. Nor was the sight of someone’s bottom partially covered with a sequin-covered leotard the first thing they hoped to see.

“Oh God”, moaned the figure hunched over in the tiny toilet cubicle.

Gareth hid outside the door. “Is everything all right?” he enquired.


“Can I go and get anything?”, he stammered unsure what to do. “A cup of tea perhaps?” he added weakly.

Tracey stepped in. She might not be trained in first aid, but helping someone chucking up after a night out was her field. Leaning in, she gently took hold of the woman’s long hair and pulled it back away from her face. It’s bad enough being sick, but chunks of vomit clinging to your split ends made it ten times worse.

“Blimey, you’re having a good clear out”, she joked. Looking at her watch, she added, “Mind you, I normally save this stuff for later in the day.”

A deathly pale face looked up at her. Its owner paused for a few seconds to check that there wasn’t about to be a repeat performance and then slowly stood up.

“Thanks. I’m sorry about that. It’s probably something I ate. Our hotel breakfast looked a bit dodgy this morning.”. Another pause. “I’m Julie. Julie Todmonton. Sparks’ assistant.” She proffered her hand and then took it back quickly. “Can you give me a couple of minutes to clean up?”

Back in the corridor, Tracey found Freddie huddled with Gareth and a terrified looking Kelvin.

“How is she?” Freddie asked.

“I’ve been worse. Says it’s something to do with the hotel. Probably not going to be leaving a glowing review on Trip Adviser.”

“Hmm. Let’s hope so. They are on stage in twenty minutes.”

Tracey had seen the posters up for a magic act. Sparks was emblazoned across the top with a permatanned grinning face in the middle. Cartoon electric bolts shot out around him. She had to admit that if you ignored the orange skin and Photoshop white teeth, he wasn’t bad looking. This and the fact he would be the ‘big’ star in the upcoming pantomime had persuaded her to give up an evening in the name of research.

“Maybe it’s stage fright then.”

Freddie shook his head, “No chance. They are pros. When you’ve been doing your act for a couple of years in every town in the country, it gets pretty banal.”

Tracey wondered if wearing skin-tight glittery costumes and having your head cut off could really be a run of the mill way to earn a living. The clothes are OK, she thought, and I suppose it’s better than getting chewed up by Kate all the time.

As she pondered, the face from the posters appeared beside them. “What’s happening? Where the hell’s Julie?”

Freddie turned, “Ah. Tracey. Please allow me to introduce you to Barry Martin, better known as…”

“Sparks. Just call me Sparks, young lady”, said the magician.

Dressed in a sharp black suit that showed off his figure, he was a million miles from the traditional old school conjurer who would have fitted the age of the venue or its audience. The posters didn’t do him justice. For a start, he wasn’t orange. Maybe the photo was a couple of years old, but the teeth really did light up the room when he smiled and there was an undefinable ‘something’ about him. She felt a little flush looking into his blazing green eyes. “Pleased to meet you”, she stammered.

“Tracey is here to help us relaunch the theatre. She’s a management consultant.”

Sparks looked at her. “Management consultant eh? Perhaps I should consult you myself. I need a bit of bringing in to line sometimes. Isn’t that right Freddie!”

Freddie laughed. Tracey blushed again. Was he hitting on her? “Oh, it sounds more boring than it really is. We go in and shake things up a bit, that’s all.”

“Well, if you fancy giving me a quick jiggle, I’ll be back for the season in a couple of weeks. Perhaps we can discuss a little strategy?”

Bloody hell. He really was hitting on her. And she quite liked it. “Maybe we can”, she smiled, “But I think you need to check on your assistant first. She’s not feeling too good.”

“Oh god. Yes. I told her to lay off the yoghurt at breakfast. Bloody things all looked out of date to me. Stick to red meat, that’s what I say.” Then with a final flash of his smile, Sparks disappeared into the dressing room, slamming the door behind him.

For a moment, they listened outside. Inside there were the muffled sounds of a discussion that quickly became heated. Freddie gulped and lead Tracey back to the office.


Sat with a cup of coffee that would defy any barista’s description, Freddie relaxed. “I think Barry, sorry, Sparks, likes you.”

Tracey looked away. “You think so? I thought you showbiz people were all like that. Air kisses one minute and bitching behind each other’s backs the next.”

“Not me luv”, he chuckled, “but I know what you mean. There are some real bitches in this business – and that’s just the men!”

They both laughed. Then a thought crossed Tracey’s mind. “Sparks and Julie. Are they, you know, a couple?”

“Oh, I don’t think so. She’s been with him for eighteen months or so. Pretty good really. He tends to be, how shall we put it, quite demanding. He’s got a bit of a temper.”

“Really? That doesn’t sound good. It sounded like they were rowing when we left. Will she be all right?”

Freddie laughed again. “Don’t worry. Julie can give as good as she gets. That’s why she’s lasted so long working with him. The trouble is, he wants to be the next big thing. We’re really too small a venue for his ego. Don’t get me wrong, he’s good. Really good, but he wants his name in lights in Leicester Square, not on a provincial theatre.”

“Do you reckon he’ll make it?”, she asked.

“Maybe. I’ve seen some real no-hopers make it big on TV and plenty of huge talents spend their entire careers slogging around the circuit living out of a suitcase in cheap hotels. It’s all about luck and who you know rather than if you are any good.”

“You mean talent doesn’t matter?”

“Oh, it matters. Unless you are young and very pretty”, he looked sideways at Tracey, “then you need to be ‘discovered’ by someone and that means getting your arse out on to the stage every evening.”

“So how come he’s doing the panto?”

“Trains, my dear.”

“Trains?” she asked

“Yes. You see, we are on the line from London. The critics can get out to us and watch the show but still be back in time for last orders at the Groucho club. That way they can pretend to show an interest in the provinces and then scamper back into the comfort of a Zone 1 card on the tube.”

She nodded. “Clever.”

“Patronising bastards most of them. ‘Oh you do so well for a regional theatre’ half of them seem surprised we have seats and running electricity.”, his shaking hand spilt coffee on the table, “But we need the reviews. The councillors always look impressed when the papers from the capital give us a tiny mention, and as you know, we need to keep them on board.”

A bell rang. Freddie looked up. “Showtime I think. Would you like to see Sparks in action?”

Tracey nodded and leaving the undrinkable beverage behind, headed into the auditorium.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 11

“Jesus, cats what have you been doing?”

Kate stumbled in through the front door picked her way through her lounge looking at a scene of utter destruction. Sitting facing each other, playing it cool, Olly and Horatio were pretending that she wasn’t talking to them.

The date hadn’t gone well. It turned out that since she’d last hooked up with Casper, he’d got himself engaged to someone he met on holiday in Portugal. Worse, he insisted on showing her photos on his phone and talking about weddings.

After half-an-hour she had excused herself to throw up. Whether it was the wine on an empty stomach or the revelation that she was sitting in a bar talking to someone who considered “Angel Pie” to be a lovely nickname for his girlfriend, and was even considering having it tattooed on his manhood.

Getting back to the bar having carefully adjusted her makeup and spritzed some perfume to cover up any smell, she found Casper, or “Pumpkin Puppy” as he apparently liked to be known, talking on his phone. One look at his face told her that it was the love of his life on the other end and that no matter how revealing her outfit was, there would be no action from that direction.

He made his excuses and she decided to hang around by the bar. It was a nice place and you never knew who might rock up.

An hour and two gins later, she decided it was time for a cab. In truth, even if anyone had chatted her up, she doubted she’d be up for anything other than a slurred conversation. If women can suffer from brewers’ droop, she was well in the zone.

The cab ride home hadn’t helped either. Maybe her eyesight wasn’t at its best, but there seemed to be about twenty air fresheners hanging from the rear-view mirror. Were they masking smells, the seats had some interesting staining that Kate tried and failed to avoid sitting in, or did they actually make the problem worse? How did you sit in a knackered Toyota all day with that stink wafting near your nose?
Back at the apartment, it took a few seconds for her brain to comprehend the scene.

Olly, a black and white moggy, she’d had since he was a kitten looked up at her. He’d been her sidekick and go to companion during the ups and downs of work over the last few years. Horatio had come back with Kate from KODs last job at Fillern Holm. An unloved island tabby, she’s latched on to her and had jumped ship when they left. Kate had reservations about bringing her back because of Olly, but she couldn’t bear to leave her any more than the cat seemed to want to be left behind.

It seemed that two cats in one penthouse apartment didn’t mix. In the three days they’d been together the made short shrift of Kate’s pristine pad. Rugs had been sprayed, sofa’s mauled and most things knocked off the worksurfaces.

Tonight, was the worst. It wasn’t just the destruction, Kate realised that as her nose recovered from the cab, she could smell cat poo. Walking in to her bedroom found a pile in the middle of the floor.
“Argh, I really don’t need this shit!”

Olly had always been a house cat but Horatio was a wanderer. She’d had the whole of the island to herself and the idea of being contained seemed to be sitting badly with her. She didn’t like the litter tray either.

Feeling her stomach lurch again, Kate slammed the bedroom door and headed for the spare room. Collapsing on the bed, she didn’t bother to get undressed. Passing out, she realised that if she had brought someone home, then this would probably have ended the evening there and then.


Waking in the morning, for a few minutes Kate struggled to work out where she was. Through the fog in her mind, the previous evenings activity gradually came back to her and she groaned. Opening the door, the mess hadn’t magically gone away so she grabbed her jeans and a sweatshirt then donned rubber gloves and carpet cleaner. Kate tried to make the best of the mess in her bedroom, vowing to change the carpet soon. Picking the bag of mess up she decided to take it down to the outside bin.

Making her way down the three flights of stairs she didn’t realise she had a shadow accompanying her. In her rush to leave she’d left the door of her apartment ajar and Horatio had made a break for it. Depositing the waste, Kate turned to see a tabby tail high tailing out of the door.

“Horatio!” Kate rushed after the cat, just to see her crossing the road and running off in to the local park. “Damn, just what I don’t need!” Kate muttered to herself.

Retrieving a key and some cat snacks from her apartment, she spent the next half an hour try to locate the elusive tabby, but she was nowhere to be seen. Collar and microchip less, Kate was worried she’d never see her again.

The next day in the office Kate was distracted. Horatio still hadn’t been seen. She’d skipped her morning HIIT class to walk round the park calling the cat. Some of the people there had given her very funny looks as she walked round shouting ‘Horatio’.

She was busily printing off a poster with a picture of the cat to put up around town when Gareth walked in.
“What are you up to?” He tried to peek at what was coming off the printer.

“Nothing, nothing.” Kate quickly folded up the posters and put them in an envelope.

Gareth managed to swipe another as it came off the printer.

“Missing. Tabby named Horatio. Last seen on Wednesday night. If found call 07777 5555555. Oh no, what happened.” Gareth looked genuinely concerned, he liked all animals and remember the cat from their last job.

“She’s been staying with my brother but that didn’t work out. She managed to escape my flat last night and now I can’t find her.” Kate’s voice wobbled slightly at the end of the sentence and she turned away from Gareth.

Gareth turned slightly pink, he’d never seen his colleague get emotional. He patted her on the back.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure she will come back. She’s not stupid that cat.”

“Thanks, yes I’m sure it’ll all be fine. I’m just going to pop out and do some postering.” Kate gathered the signs together and some tape.

“Don’t be silly, we’ll all help.” Being his usual boisterous self, Gareth wandered out of the office.

Everyone. Down tools, we are all going over the park for lunch today. Kate’s lost her cat so we are the search party.”

The sounds of ohs and ahs came from the office before bags were picked up and phones collected.

“I’ll even buy everyone an ice cream.”

That got everyone moving a bit faster.

By the time they’d walked to the park the group had a bit of a party atmosphere. Gareth found the ice cream van and Mr Whippy plus flake were dished out.

Handing out posters Kate felt a mixture of relief and confusion. She didn’t like being made a big deal off, but this was a nice touch by her colleague.

Out of the corner of her eye she thought she saw a tail in the undergrowth. The next thing a tabby stepped out the bushes. It was Horatio.

“There she is!” Kate shouted to her colleagues.

Lulled by the ice cream they took a while to react. The cat had gone again before they got their act together.

“Quick, spread out.”

It was hard to make a team of office workers; in heels, skirts, shirts and ties turn into a crack search team, but they did their best. Split into three teams they did their best hedge bashing and undergrowth exploring trying to find the elusive cat.

An hour later they had to admit defeat. Where ever the cat was she wasn’t showing her face again. The team put posters up around the park and resigned themselves to a fun but unsuccessful lunch break.

“I’m just going to put one of these up in my apartment block. I’ll meet you back at the office.” Kate was disappointed, they hadn’t retrieved the cat but at least she knew she was still alive.

Walking towards her block she thought she saw something by the entrance Sitting quietly by the door was Horatio.

“Oh puss, you have given me the run around.” Kate scooped her up and gave her lots of fuss. Looking no worse off for her trip out Horatio bounded up the stairs to the apartment and proceeded to curl up in a corner after scoffing some food. Olly looked over bemused.

Picking up her phone Kate texted Gareth. ‘She’s back’

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 10

Buoyed up by her shopping experience, Kate sat in her lounge sipping a glass of white wine later, still smiling.  She’s gone straight from the shop to the gym and had a really good session.  The sweat had been dripping from her machine in the spin class and then she’d hit body pump too.  Her muscles would be aching afterwards but it was the best workout she’d had in ages.

Kate’s chat with Olive and the shop with Amelia had given her some confidence to face up to the thing that was bugging her the most. What the hell was going on with her and Dave?  Olive was right, this had been hanging around for 20 years on and off and she’d missed the boat back at university, moping about him being in America with his (ex?)wife now wasn’t helping things.

She looked at her phone to check the time difference between the UK and America, it was only three in the afternoon over there so hopefully it would be a good time to call Dave.  Before she had time to think about it any more, she downed her glass of wine and filled up another before video dialling him on her phone.


Over in the States, Dave’s phone rang.  He’d just come back from the gym too and was picking Junior up later to go out for some food and take in a movie. Alicia was having an afternoon with her family and he’d not wanted to intrude.  Looking at the screen he was surprised to see it was Kate calling.

“Um, hi there.”  Dave propped his phone up on the table while he towelled his hair.  He hoped that the angle meant that Kate couldn’t see he wasn’t wearing anything else but a towel.

“Hi Dave, I hope I haven’t interrupted anything?”  Kate could just see a blur of movement on the other end.  Hang on, she thought, I don’t think he’s got anything on.  She didn’t know if to look closer or look away.

“Nope, I’m just drying off after a trip to the gym. Hang on, just let me finish getting dressed”. He turned round to walk over and grab some pants, the movement causing his towel to slip down at the back.

At the other end, Kate got a full eyeful of a rather pert derriere.  She stifled a laugh, not wanting him to know what she had seen.  It was turning into a rather pleasant phone call, she downed another glass of wine and daydreamed while she waited for him to return fully clothed.  She’d forgotten what it was like to have sexual urges, it had been so long.

Bantering for the next few minutes over who had done the hardest work out it was like old times on the call.  Dave was insistent that his weight program was harder than her spin class, she argued moving her heart rate into the red zone meant she was fitter.

“What can I do for you?” Dave was pleased Kate had called but he needed to get ready to go out soon so was wondering what the call was about, Kate never called without a reason.

“What do you mean, can’t a girl just call to say hi?”  Even Kate realised this sounded hollow, she always had a purpose and didn’t do chat.  “Actually, I was wondering how you’d got on with generating some business.”

Ah, it’s all work, Dave thought.  He was disappointed, he’d been hoping that they could talk a bit about them.

Dave reeled off a few of the conversations he’d been having, without mentioning the big meeting he’d had with the telecoms company a few days earlier.  He wanted to keep that one quiet because it was his deal and he wanted to make sure it came off before blowing a fanfare.  He didn’t know why but there was something about that job he wanted to keep to himself, probably because there were parts of the deal Kate wouldn’t be happy with.  He did mention an anecdote about using Dave Jnr as in with someone.

“You won’t believe what I did today.  Took my niece shoe shopping.”  Kate smiled again at the thought of Amelia’s face when they’d picked her shoes.  She still felt that joy when her shopping trips were a success, though it was much nicer to share it with someone else.

“What!  I thought you didn’t do children?” Dave was amazed.  Kate never even mentioned her nieces and nephews, or if she did it was only in disparaging terms.

“Ah this was different; she was like my little shopping buddy.  There were no nappy changes or sick involved.”  Kate related the shoe shopping story.

“And did you get any while you were there?”  Dave knew about Kate’s shopping habit.  He wasn’t totally surprised she’s enjoyed this trip with Amelia, it was perfect for her.  He was also pleased with her finally being more open to children. He knew the biggest stumbling block in their potential relationship was his son, perhaps this would help her to become more open.

“Ha no, they didn’t have them in my size!”  Kate finished her last glass and looked at her laptop.  Perhaps some online shopping after the call might be called for.

“You, me and Junior will have to go out when I’m back in the UK.”  Dave tested the water.

“I’m not sure his taste in shoes is the same as mine.”  Kate laughed.  She knew that she wasn’t as keen on boys as girls but perhaps she could find a connection with a seven-year-old boy.  As long as it didn’t involve sports events. 

“I didn’t mean that, maybe a meal or trip to a museum?” 

Kate realised that Dave was opening a door.  She hadn’t realised that taking her niece out could make a difference to her faltering relationship too.  The question was, did she want to put her foot into that gap or close it?

“That would be nice, how would Alicia feel?”  As soon as she said it, she realised it was the wrong thing to say.  Dave stood up and walked away from the phone.

“I’m sure she would be fine.”  Dave gritted his teeth.  Kate had just totally ruined the vibe of the conversation.  Why couldn’t she just leave that part of his life alone?  “Anyway, I need to go now, I’ve got to go and pick Junior up.”

“Fine.”  Kate, never the one to back down, didn’t like Dave’s tone.  If he wanted to be funny, she thought, then sod him.

Winding up the call, Kate was frustrated in more ways than one.  It was the best conversation they’d had in a long time, but then it had gone sour, the way their conversations seemed to do.  And after consuming nearly a whole bottle of wine and seeing a half-naked man she was feeling like she needed something to let off steam, and shoe shopping wouldn’t do it.  Picking up the phone she scrolled to another number.

“Hi Casper, yes I know I haven’t called you for a while. Don’t suppose you fancy a drink in town?”

Bootie call arranged she went off to change in to one of her sluttier outfits.  F*ck Dave, who needed him anyway.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 9

Yo sis, what’s happening in the high-powered world of business change?”

Kate’s brother Jake enveloped her in a bear hug. He mainly did it because he knew she hated it, in fact any kind of touchy feely was a no no with Kate, which was all the more reason her brother liked to wind her up with affection.

She took it for 30 seconds, and then wiggled out of his grasp. Her brother was not a small man, both tall and broad with a middle section running to fat. A successful partner in a law firm, he had a nice life with two kids in Dorridge, a swanky suburb of Solihull. His wife hadn’t worked since she’d had their first child, so the house was immaculate, though she wasn’t always, and could do with the odd trip to the gym herself, Kate though unkindly, looking at her sister in law. Chloe looked harassed with messed up hair and ill-fitting clothes. Kate wondered why she didn’t have more time to make an effort.

Amelia, come here!” Chloe tried to get the attention of her seven-year-old daughter. Amelia was more intent in watching her latest hair tutorial on YouTube and didn’t seem to hear her mother shout. “Amelia, I have to get your brother to rugby practice now, and then we need to go school shoe shopping. Yours are practically falling apart.”

The child appeared in the kitchen door. Her hair was a mess of braids and clips and she had a face like thunder.

Why do I HAVE to go? Auntie Kate is here and so is Dad, why I can’t I say here while you drop HIM off at rugby.” The pout would have made a Khardasian proud.

Because you do. Your Auntie has come around to talk to your Dad and we need to get those shoes before Monday. Just do as you are told, brush your hair and let’s go.” Chloe was scrabbling around collecting rugby boots and kit from the washing pile and grabbing her car keys.

Coffee, Kate?” Jake seemed to be completely ignorant to his wife’s dilemma. Riffling through the packets he began reeling off options like a well-practised barista.

A hand tugged at Kate’s sleeve. “Auntie Kate, can you take me shoe shopping? “Amelia looked up at her Auntie with imploring eyes. Lowering her voice and looking pointedly at her mother, she whispered to Kate. “You always have better taste in shoes that she does.”

The mention of shoes hit Kate’s shopping nerve. It was almost like she felt her credit card twitch. She’d come over to pick Jake’s brains on work and love life situation, but actually wondered if she could deal with a shopping trip with a seven-year-old. Hey, she might get something too while they were out.

I’m sure Kate’s far too busy to take you out.” Chloe threw the rugby bag over her shoulder in a last-ditch attempt to get out of the door on time.

Well…” Kate was torn. Amelia looked at her again, pleading. Perhaps it could be fun to go shoe shopping with another girl? “I don’t mind. I might be quite nice for us to go out together.” As soon as she said it, she wondered if it was the right thing to do. She’s never spent time alone with her niece and wasn’t confident with children. Could they go to the loo on their own? Did she need regular feeding?

With time ticking Chloe acquiesced. “OK fine, no sparkly shoes mind, it’s plain black for school remember. Go to the proper shoe shop and get her feet measured first.” Grabbing her keys and son she rushed out the door shouting “Get the car seat from Jake’s car.”

Jake was flabbergasted. His sister never offered to look after the kids. He’d given up trying to involve her in family activities, even though she only lived down the road, as she only pouted and complained about rounders in the park ruining her shoes or being too loud.

So, we’d better get that seat moved over and you off then. I think Amelia’s got a party later so you’ve not got much time. Are you sure you don’t want me to come?”

Watching Jake’s performance earlier Kate wasn’t sure he’d be any better at this parenting thing than she was.


30 minutes later and they were pulling into the shopping centre carpark in the middle of Birmingham. Admiring the silver disks on the outside of the prestigious department store, Amelia had a big smile on her face.

Mom never brings me here. Its just to the school shop in the retail park for us.”

Well my girl, we are going for a proper shop.” Kate was actually quite looking forward to this now, they’d chatted about school and some of the styling videos Amelia had watched on You Tube on the way over. Kate realised that she had more to talk about with a seven year old than she thought.

Walking across the bridge from the car park Amelia grabbed Kate’s hand. Kate almost pulled away but realised she quite enjoyed the sensation of a small hand in hers.

Amelia stopped, dumbstruck, when then entered the store. It was all light and colour, with escalators running up and down the central atrium. There were staff spritzing perfume and offering samples everywhere she looked.

Hello little girl, would you like to try this chocolate cookie? I’ll just check with your mom.”

Kate went to correct them, and then decided it was easier not to explain.

Amelia picked the rich chocolate biscuit off the tray and took a bite. It melted in her mouth.

Auntie Kate, this is amazing, you have to try some.” She handed the rest over.

Kate held the morsel. She’d never normally let something so bad cross her lips, but watching the expressions on Amelia’s face made her want to experience the same. She took a bite, it was heaven. She ate the rest before she could stop herself.

The girls toured the store, starting in cosmetics where Kate let Amelia have a small make over while she got hers touched up. They both left with little goodie bags.

Kate showed Amelia all the designer bags, with Amelia being able to identify the ones Kate had, which surprised her. She’d never realised how much attention her niece paid to her wardrobe.

Finally arriving at the kids shoes, Kate and Amelia stood by the rack of school shoes and both felt depressed. The plain black characterless shoes didn’t inspire either of them.

How about these?” Amelia held up a pair of gold sandals from another display. “Or these.” She showed Kate some silver ballet pumps.

They are lovely but your mom did say school shoes.” Kate felt for her, the options really were horrible.

Hi, can I help?” A sales assistant appeared. “Shall I measure your daughter?”

Again, Kate didn’t bother explaining, she was quite enjoying herself, being parent by proxy.

Once Amelia had been sized they asked for all the options for school. The sales assistant wasn’t stupid, she’d seen them looking at the rack of black shoes with a lack of inspiration. She’d also clocked Kate’s Mulberry Bag and stilettos, put two and two together and worked out this wasn’t Mom. One good shop and she’d make her commission for the day.

We’ve got those on show but I’ve got a couple of options out the back that might be more to your taste.”

Amelia sat swinging her legs on the chair. Smiling to herself she was chatting away to Kate and herself about the shop and what they had seen. From Kate’s bag a phone could be heard ringing.

When the shoes were lined up, Amelia went quiet. There were from a different world compared to the standard shoes. They could only loosely be called school shoes as the main bulk of the shoe was black but they came with attachments and accoutrements. One pair had changeable laces with holographic patterns. The next had snap on butterflies and bows that could be added to front of the shoe. The final pair looked plain from the top but when flipped they had a slight heel with diamantes and flashing purple lights set into the heel. As Amelia walked a light would come on under the shoe, creating a glow around her foot.

Auntie Kate, these are amazing.” Amelia sat on the floor surrounded by her shoe options. She looked like a kid in a candy store. In the background Kate’s phone was ringing again.

Seeing a fellow ‘shoeaholic’ in action, Kate helped Amelia pick a pair. They plumped for the pair with lights, but added the snap on butterflies from other shoes for extra flair. Kate found she was really enjoying herself and the enjoyment on her niece’s face.

That’ll be £150 please.” Kate just put out her credit card, ignoring the price. Her bag rang again. Finally picking up her phone she saw Chloe’s name on the screen.

Darling, we’ve had a wonderful time. You are going to love Amelia’s new shoes.” Amelia could be heard screaming in the background.

Kate, where are you?” Chloe sounded stressed.

In town. We were just going to get some lunch.” Kate looked at her nodding niece who was mouthing ‘ice cream’.

Amelia has a party to go to in 10 minutes.” Chloe tried to keep her voice calm.

Ah, Jake did mention something. Does it matter if she’s late?” Kate was too busy enjoying herself.

It’s a princess party, they have entertainment planned so its better if she’s there on time.” On the other end of the phone Chloe was rolling her eyes.

Finally sensing Chloe’s mood, Kate scooped up the shoe bag and her excited niece. “We are on our way.”

Dropping her off 30 minutes late a more stressed Chloe appeared at the door, party dress in hand. She grabbed her daughter and rushed her inside before spotting the shopping bag.

From inside the house Kate could here muffled voices in what sounded like an argument.

She’s bought her shoes from that shop, we can’t afford that, they won’t last for five minutes. You need to talk to her, and about that cat too.”

Revving the engine as Jake appeared at the door Kate spun off with a wave. Jake had a slightly dejected look on his face but seeing the smile on her sister’s face he waved back. It was nice to see her happy for once. The shoes, well he could deal with the fallout from those later.

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